A lack of money and a f**k it attitude has led me down some bizarre roads in the past and my latest adventure was no less so.
A while back I agreed to do some cover teaching at our local primary school. At the time I was asked it was ages away and for some reason (temporary insanity springs to mind) it seemed like it might be fun.
And then suddenly, the day of reckoning was upon me – 8.30am, Monday 26th March my life as Miss Sara began. It started well, a cheery “good morning Miss Sara” chorus as 16 eager 6-9 year olds streamed in to class, keen to start their week of learning. Sadly, the joie de vivre was short lived as one little boy tearfully explained to me that his brother had “murdered” his fish whilst he clung to my leg and dripped snot all down my leggings. Further investigation revealed that the murder was in fact unintentional overfeeding but regardless, my young charge had “a pain in his heart” and had shed “so many tears the pillow nearly floated away in the night”. Not to be outdone, various other members of the class piped up with their tales of death – cats run over in the street, old grannies they’d never met dying in their sleep in faraway Scotland and a snake noisily killed by the local dogs (this one came complete with sound effects).
And then came the ailments. A whiney, “Miss Sara” emanated from a knee high young lady complete with mopey ‘please feel sorry for me’ face as she proceeded to tell me her belly hurt. No sooner had she been deposited in the reading corner to rest than two more pouting young ladies were declaring their bellies to be aching too. Not to be outdone by the girls, a feisty young man ripped off his scrappy plaster off his leg to reveal a miniscule cut on his finger that he was “scared might get infected” whilst another showed me the scab on his toe that “hurt, like, a real lot Miss Sara”. Neither seemed too enamoured with my offer to chop off the offending appendage with scissors, choosing instead to “wait and see if it gets better on its own!”
Whilst triaging the litany of health complaints that followed (from memory they included but weren’t limited to, an achy hip, a headache, a loose tooth and a funny bone ache (I kid you not)) a hand hovered in front of my face. Finally, a break in the chatter allowed me to invite my patient, young, hand waving charge to speak.
And the important information to be imparted? An unsolicited explanation of the yellow and red card behaviour system pinned on the board along with a none too subtle hint as to who might be the main recipient and a description of the daily news slot with a reminder not to forget that it happens fifteen minutes before the class ends (when the big hand is on the 9 and the little hand is on the 11 just in case you were wondering!).
Split into their literacy groups and tasked with various descriptive writing activities the Miss Sara chorus continued. “Miss Sara, my head hurts”, “Miss Sara, he said this”, Miss Sara, she stuck her finger in my ear”, “Miss Sara, Miss Kyara (their regular teacher) doesn’t do it like that”, “Miss Sara, can I go to the toilet?”, “Miss Sara, can I drink water?” and on and on it went.
We made it through to break time – for them a chance to run around like loons in the playground, for me ½ an hour respite from hearing my own name every two seconds – but before I knew it they were back, red faced and dripping with sweat and extremely eager to tell tales on each other, accompanied, of course, by the obligatory “Miss Sara” opener. We settled down for story time, a three-page chapter, warranting five interruptions to: explain how Miss Kyara does things; tell me who was picking their nose; remind me of news time when the big hand is on nine and the little hand is on eleven; tell me and the whole class a convoluted ghost story; ask me why my foot has blue veins in the arch and theirs doesn’t.
My response to the latter question of “because I’m an old lady and my skin is white so you can see through it’ led to the inevitable “how old are you Miss Sara?” which I used to move us seamlessly into our numeracy activity by playing the higher/lower game to guess my age.
16 hands were eagerly raised as I asked for the first guess. Managing to mask my horror when my chosen volunteer boldly declared 73, I quickly uttered lower and we slowly made our way down through the sixties towards my actual age (47) via around the same number of guesses – listening skills definitely need some work!
Of course, once the number was known we had the whole gamut of comparisons (with a Miss Sara prefix of course) My dad is 47, My mum is 23, my granny is 48 (thanks for that one!) my dog is 2 blah blah blah.
And so it continued. We set up our numeracy activities, they did them whilst demanding my attention for any number of spurious reasons. We tidied the classroom and settled down for news time which was again punctuated with Miss Sara declarations and questions and finally, after what seemed like a lifetime, it was time to go.
One final “goodbye Miss Sara” and then they were gone. Well, all except one that is. Hanging to my leg, tears still filling his eyes was my little dead fish friend. “Thank you for being my teacher, Miss Sara” he sniffed as yet another snot bubble made its way from his nose to my leggings.
Only eight more days to go!