Thank God it's Friday

9th June 2000 at 01:00
Monday Mother A is appalled at the school policy of infants wearing only pants andT-shirts for gymnastics. She explains that her younger son has asthma and if son A were to catch a cold this would trigger off the younger son's asthma, resulting in his hospitalisation. She wants her son to wear a leotard, tights and shoes. I try to convey the stress levels involved in getting 30 five-year-olds undressed, and that the addition of leotard and tights would mean that I, not her younger son, would need to be hospitalised.

Tuesday Mother B fails to see that it is not usual for her child to wet herself four times in a day, three times in the space of half an hour. A mop and disinfectant have become class fixtures.

Wednesday As the class get undressed for gymnastics, it becomes apparent that son A is wearing ski trousers on top of normal trousers, on top of pyjamas, on top of long-johns, followed by a hooded top, a waistcoat, a jumper, a shirt, a T-shirt and a vest.

Thursday My stomach sinks as I notice Mother A going up to the office after dropping off her son. I havevisions of court scenes in which she accuses me of murdering her young son and I am relieved to the point of hysterical laughter by the news that her urgent complaint had been her discovery of a cigarette stub in the corridor. Not content with the explanation that it could only have been brought in on someone's shoe during the morning stampede, she sweeps out threatening to take action.

Friday Mother A corners me at the end of the day to tell me that she does not want her child to learn to read or write yet. Feeling some initial sympathy with her view, I explain about the national curriculum. My sympathy evaporates when she interrupts to tell me that her son must release his excess energy whenever he feels the urge and so must be allowed the space and time to skip around the classroom. I console myself with the thought that maybe this school does not offer the educational climate that Mother A is seeking and that it will not be long before I am spared my daily "chat".

The writer is an NQT reception teacher in central London. She wants to remain anonymous


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