Father's day

3rd June 2005 at 01:00
Michael Cook learns the etiquette of the Year 1Year 2 divide

With two children in the infants, fairness is everything. So one week I help in my five-year-old daughter Poppy's Year 1 class, and the next week I help in my seven-year-old son Alfie's Year 2 class. It is vitally important never to get these confused. The cultural differences between Years 1 and 2 would test an anthropologist. Year 1s need you to fasten their coats. Year 2s do not want you to fasten their coats under any circumstances. They are quite old enough now, thank you, not like those Year 1 babies. They will do it. Unless they have a bit of a tricky zip.

Year 1s like you to read them books about dinosaurs, princesses, spacemen, witches and fairies. Year 2s like to read books to you about dinosaurs, princesses, spacemen, witches and fairies.

In Year 1, the great social challenge of school is to find a best friend who will support you, care for you, empathise with you and be there forever. In Year 2, everybody has been everybody else's best friend, at least once. Year 1s hand their dinner money straight to teacher because they have been warned not to lose it. Year 2s hold on to their dinner money until they are asked for it because they know that money means power and they like to feel it in their hands.

Year 1s worry irrationally about ghosts, monsters and ogres. Year 2s worry irrationally about ballet exams, rugby trials and Sats. Year 1s know that they must drink all their milk up because it will make them into big, strong boys and girls. Year 2s know that they are big strong boys and girls because they drank all their milk up.

Year 1s decorate their lunchboxes with brightly coloured stickers to show their innate sense of style and colour, and the choice of fantasy character that best fits their personality. By Year 2, lunchboxes are only held together by all the stickers.

Year 1 boys think Chelsea are the best, and they want their kit. Year 2 boys argue that Chelsea's success is indicative of the increasing globalisation of the modern leisure economy, and may be unsustainable without the continued financial support of their billionaire chairman. But they still want their kit. Year 1s call me Mr Cook. Year 2s call me Mike.

My own two remember to call me Dad, almost always.

Michael Cook is a freelance copywriter and a parent helper at Ernehale infants school, Arnold, Nottingham, which his children, Alfie and Poppy, attend

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