This lunchtime I am in the art room swinging my hips and arms in an erratic manner that might suggest to an onlooker that I am experiencing some sort of convulsion.
Before anyone walking past the window sees me and rings for an ambulance, I should explain that I am trying to learn to floss. As you probably know, this is the latest craze among primary children. Some of their teachers can do it, too, but, as yet, not me.
Unlike fidget spinners, loom bands, Pokémon cards, Pogs, Tamagotchis and every craze that has conspired over the years to cause maximum classroom disruption, flossing has one big disadvantage where teachers are concerned. Because no actual floss is used, you can’t confiscate it. You can attempt to ban it from the classroom, disallow it on the corridor and explain the dangers of doing it in the dining room, but you can’t physically put it in your drawer until home time.
When a craze like this takes off, it’s easier to go with the flow (literally) than to fight it, which is why I think we should incorporate it into our school timetable. A Daily Floss has all the health benefits of a Daily Mile (improving fitness and reducing obesity) with the added benefit that we don’t need to go outside in all weathers to do it. As far as I can see, the only drawback is the fact that coordinating complex rhythmic movements is not something everyone finds easy.
If I concentrate and do it slowly, I can pat myself on the head and rub my stomach in a circular motion. More complex activities such as clapping games, French skipping and hula hooping have mostly proved beyond my capability.
The art of the floss
I reckon my coordination would have improved if I’d been allowed to continue our dance-based aerobic sessions, but Mrs Eddison banned me from attending her Salsa Shake-up class because I was embarrassing.
While the emotional impact of failure can damage children’s self-esteem, it mostly strengthens my resolve. That is why I’ve recruited a personal trainer to show me how to do it.
Darius, who is widely recognised by other children as an expert in the art of the floss, begins in ultra-slow motion. First he demonstrates the arms; then he demonstrates the hips. Finally, he puts the two together and invites me to copy him.
Under his guidance, I soon master both sets of actions. The problem is I can’t do them at the same time.
After five minutes of teaching, Darius has flossed the will to live and in frustration accelerates into a self-indulgent blur of arms and hips.
My efforts to replicate this are interrupted by the arrival of an authority figure who demands to know what’s happening.
Ms Boudicca already knows how to floss (which I suppose is why she’s a headteacher and I’m not), but is a little confused as to how this latest craze got its name. “It’s like flossing your teeth,” explains Darius without breaking rhythm. “Only you have to imagine you’ve been in the shower and you’re drying your private parts with a long, thin towel.”
Steve Eddison teaches at Arbourthorne Community Primary School in Sheffield