Thank God it's Friday

3rd October 1997 at 01:00
Monday: In the nursery, PE is first thing. It's the dreaded music and movement today. Stretch up tall, curl up small, tiptoe, stride, jump, skip. I'm exhausted and it's only 9.45. Now the lengthy process of re-dressing. Bless the person who invented Velcro; laces when attached to the shoes of a class of four-year-olds are no fun.

We talk about our weekend news. One child tells me that her mummy wasn't happy yesterday because she had "the thrush".

Tuesday: We decide to measure the width of the nursery with buttons and counters. Fifteen minutes of excited activity and we're done. Then the dreaded words - "Can you count them, Mrs Gordon? We can only get up to 20." "Seventy-eight, 79, 80 . . ."

Later I come across a group of children in the book corner engrossed in a game that I hear them refer to as "playing Mrs Gordon". This appears to consist of one child sitting on my chair holding up a book for the others to see, saying things like "If I see you do that again you'll have to come and sit by my toes". There's nothing like children for helping you to see yourself as others see you.

Wednesday: A visit to a local church. I'm not sure the vicar knew what he was letting himself in for. Twenty excited four-year-olds swarm into every nook and cranny, up pulpit and down aisle, under altar and over pews. "Any questions, children?" We hold our breath, knowing they could come out with anything. Luckily, it's no worse than "Did you know, I got a Ballerina Barbie for my birthday?" There's an outbreak of weddings and funerals in the home corner on our return to the nursery and lots of searching questions. How can we know that God exists? Where does he live? Can he hear us talking to him?

Thursday: We're playing with cornflour gloop. Amazing stuff. You can pour it, drip it, squelch it between your fingers and yet you can roll it in a ball. I have a great time, up to my elbows and covered in white splatter marks. Why is it that the head always chooses moments like these to make an entrance with a couple of prospective parents? I am suddenly conscious of the cornflour hardening in my hair, and try unsuccessfully to look like a responsible recipient of their four-year-old darling.

Friday: I enjoy the end of the week. There is a lovely sense of lightheartedness. I have to stop myself from shouting "Yippee" when, having asked what the day is today, the children chorus "Friday". But today I am the bearer of bad tidings. Hector the nursery hamster has had to be put down. The children want all the details, so I explain that because Hector was in pain, the vet gave him an injection that made him die. I notice the wide eyes and white face of one girl. Too late, I remember that she is due at the doctor's for a jab this afternoon.

Joanna Gordon lives in Reading, Berkshire

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