Thank God it's Friday

26th February 1999 at 00:00
Monday I arrive in the nursery at 8am to find Armstrong, the hamster, has gone AWOL. I ask the children what clues to his whereabouts we should look for. Joe suggests that you'd know where he was if you stepped on something and it crunched. The miscreant animal is eventually discovered curled up in a Davy Crockett hat in the home corner amid copious droppings.

Tuesday While I try to stomach the flow of Abbie's uncontrollable nosebleed, two full pots of paint are knocked on to the floor. After experimentally stepping in and out of the puddle, Ruby shouts triumphantly: "Look, yellow and blue make green".

Meanwhile, Richard confides that he has stuck a "firework" up his nose. This proves to be a sequin, which his mother subsequently retrieves with tweezers and returns to me later in a plastic bag as a souvenir. She tells me that the day before he ate a raw escalope from the fridge. This is clearly a boy with a penchant for stuffing his orifices with quaint novelties.

Wednesday My other role is as garden co-ordinator. Today I discover that, in their zeal for leaf clearance, the contract gardeners have uprooted a bed full of freshly-planted perennials and that a bewildered hedgehog has slipped into a hole recently dug to plant honeysuckle. We scoop him out, and he polishes off a tin of cat food before sauntering away, apparently none the worse for wear.

Thursday My computer is not functioning. This is not a premature millennium bug, but an anonymous and inventive free spirit feeding the slots with pieces of flattened Plasticine. At story time I ask Amy not to dredge her nose and stick bogeys on to the new carpet. Laura, her twin, obligingly scrapes up the morsel and eats it. After a fourth child wets himself, I attempt - unsuccessfully - to solve the mystery of who keeps locking the loo doors from the outside.

Friday Every available chair and table leg is shackled with ribbons, threads and elastic bands. I am heavily bandaged and my hair is tied into a ponytail.

Somewhere in all of this, we try to keep sight of the desirable outcomes by turning each incident into a fruitful learning experience.

Then it's off home to deal with the accumulated squalor of the week and to persuade my recalcitrant teenager to do homework on the grounds that education is liberating.

Gill Tweed is a nursery teacher at Sheringdale Primary, south London

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