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Thank God It's Friday

Monday: The first day of half-term. My husband arrives home at lunchtime to look after the children, while I set off for an FE college some miles away to take my Open University exam. It's the final stage in my efforts to gain a Diploma in Special Needs; after that, there'll be more time for myself and the family.

The exam hall is freezing and I shiver and shake my way through the paper. I can't put my coat on: I'm sitting on it in an effort to narrow the gap between chair (low) and table (high).

Tuesday: A contrast to yesterday's exertions. I take the children to the pictures, to see Walt Disney's Homeward Bound. The six-year-old has to be cuddled and comforted all the way through, and all three of us come out red-eyed.

When the nine-year-old finds out how much the outing has cost, he points out that for a couple more pounds we could have bought the video and watched it over and over again.

Wednesday: I use my new-found freedom to sweep up leaves, play board games with the boys and continue the mammoth task of making Blue Peter's version of Tracey Island. This has been vegetating, half-finished, for many months awaiting the end of my course.

Whoever designed this model to be made by children was working with some very creative ones - much handier than I am. Our attempt is decidedly lop-sided and the paint won't stick to the foil cliffs.

Thursday: The children have a friend round to play, so my presence is not required. I feel lost. Instead I give in to the demands of a one-foot-high pile of OU papers, booklets, cuttings and notes and bin the lot.

Friday: No work and no studying means I can move the weekly Tesco trip from Saturday to today. It also means I have to take my two little helpers and a circuit of the store takes rather longer than usual, interrupted by cries of, "Can we have some of this"?, "I wanted to put that in the trolley!" and "It's my turn to get something from the shelf."

I look forward to next week. I may have some classes to prepare and teach, but there will be no OU project or revision to work on and the boys will be back at school. I shall spend half an hour on Monday morning alone with a cup of coffee, a bar of chocolate and a magazine that's nothing to do with education. What bliss!

Sally Smith is a part-time tutor in basic education in Surrey

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