Tuesday 1 November 2011

Back at school

Today I shouted at one of the teaching assistants at my kids’ school. I am officially nasty me again. Thanks banking. I didn’t actually shout, but after needing to knock on the window at middle child's classroom five minutes after the bell had rung with no effect, when the door finally opened around 3:37pm, I was in no mood for mucking about. Sorry we’re a few minutes late was the feeble statement on opening the door.  It’s a bit annoying actually, I stated matter of factly, I have three children to pick up in three different places. Well we’re only just after half past, came the tart response. The classroom clock said otherwise, but I said nothing. I felt like I was getting told off. We’re working very hard, we’re doing the best we can. Again I said nothing. It was for the best, as whatever I might have said would not have gone down well, and with the rest of the parents standing behind me, no doubt aghast at my bluntness, I was already Captain Bastard.
What the dopey assistant failed to realise is that to be seven minutes late letting the children out wastes 210 minutes of thirty parents time. That’s three and a half hours for the mathematically challenged. Parents’ time is extremely precious, and teachers, as a rule, seem not to recognise this. It’s OK for them though, the school day runs from 9 to 3:30, and they get about 13 weeks holiday a year, and then a further week’s worth of gratuitous inset days that, per class, each time use up an entire month of parents' holiday.  In my current job I get five weeks of unpaid holiday and zero inset days. I am trying to juggle a full-time job around the daily school runs, and I have three kids to pick up, and when one kid is released late, I am thus late for the other two. And so it was today, and Pudding was the last in her class to be picked up, and I only had fifteen minutes to get to the girls’ Ballet lessons and get them changed into their fetching pink and white checked leotards and frilly dress things, rather than the more realistic twenty plus. I just don’t have slack time any more, every minute counts.

I am surprised how quickly my demeanour has changed. A month ago I was nice me, relaxed me.  Now…oh hang on, now what? I am being shouted at by a deaf old woman. FFS. I am in the local community centre, where the afore-mentioned ballet is taking place. The car park is ingeniously laid out, two spaces deep. This being London, you park where you can park, and it seems that my Land Rover is blocking this old woman’s 1983 Fiesta. I was a little tardy to realise what she was asking the assembled room, so peeved am I that I have become a shit again, so didn’t answer straight away. More fool me. “Well will you move it, you are blocking me in”. Yes, I’ll move it, I replied meekly, repect your elders and all that. “Yes, move it now, you’re in my way, come on, come on.” Right. As I followed her to the carpark, two paces behind her, she was loudly telling her equally deaf friend about how awful it was that she had been blocked in, how she had asked several times, and weren’t people terrible these days. She probably doesn’t realise how close she came to having her Fiesta crushed. It would have been so simple. "Oops, was that reverse? Sorry about that. Shall I put it in the recycling for you?"
Today is clearly just one of these days where it all goes wrong. I’ve just looked up and seen a sign posted to the wall, two foot square, addressed to “BALLET PARENTS”. It reads thus, and the capital letters are important: PLEASE DO NOT BRING RAISINS FOR CHILDREN TO EAT HERE. IF THEY ARE EATING OTHER SNACKS, PLEASE ASK THEM TO SIT DOWN THUS, HOPEFULLY REDUCING THE MESS”. Grammar aside, it is the kind of officious notice that makes my blood boil. Especially today. I’ve just looked for raisins in my bag of kid paraphernalia, and am irrationally annoyed that we don’t have any, as I would like to wantonly scatter some all over the room. I’ve totally forgotten what I was saying now. Oh yes, my new, unimproved self. It makes me unhappy. I liked being calm, relaxed, and in control. Trying to also fit nine hours of work into a day and something has to give. In my case it seems to be calmness, relaxedness, if that is even a word, and being in control. I felt bad about having a go at the teaching assistant. She probably was doing her best, and while it wasn't good enough, I should have just rolled with it, and accepted the additional stress this caused me. Much as I want my life to be stress-free, and this is what I particularly enjoyed about the last two and a half years, I think I just need to accept the fact that it isn’t going to be like that any more. Reality is biting. I should remember to try and not bite back.


  1. ok so you are back at work and becoming stressed!
    I expect if you re read your post you will think "I am an ogre" ok Jono is an ogre!

    Days like this happen and you are on a tight tt but sometimes stuff happens- yup just like birding!

    If you equate everything to birding it will all amke sense!

    You happen to have come across a glitch - do not equate this with all the jealous thought you have ever had about teachers- yes they do have 12 weeks holiday a year - and they appear to work from 9 to 3.00 or 3.30.

    May I explain that some of us when we taught would get to school at 7 and not leave til 5 and still have matrking to do! W/e ? well a few drinks after footie on a friday night but either sunday afternoon and evening were about prep and sometimes you just lost sat as well!
    Please do not think I am moaning I am not I had a ball! But it was as stressful as working in the city and being on stage 24/7 does take it out of even an outspoken and gregarious person such as me!

    You need soothing!

    oh and I still want to use your second photo of the wonderful Waterthrush- think about the birds!


  2. ps I love the firecrest phoyto- love Firecrests but this is so different - I'd like to use this as well - .......



  3. Hey, where do you want to use them?

  4. I will put on my Internet Psychologist hat and diagnose you with Scilly withdrawal. Unfortunately the only permanent cures are more birding trips or shifting to a more outdoorsy profession. Sadly both of the cures have a significant side effect (poverty)(and the former may also be linked to divorce). Temporary treatments can include nannies (NB: also closely linked to poverty), sleep, and resigning yourself to a manky house full of clutter. And possibly some weekend birding on your homely patch.

    The raisins reaction is completely normal though. As soon as I read it I had a little spasm of rage thinking of my own food-related nemesis, our daycare's "nut traces" ban (if you don't know what I'm talking about, for the love of God don't ask).

    As for teachers, it's definitely not as easy as it looks. Just for starters, imagine having 30+ micromanaging superiors.

  5. Jonathan - on my blog - acknowledged of course - sometimes the blog gets shared via facebook.
    That usually means friends get to see your blog too!

  6. Thank! I had missed this response!