Why am I scared of the Head teacher? Why does she make me feel like a little school girl who has not done her homework? I’m not kidding! She takes me right back to my timid childhood days of being terrified of teachers.
I’ll set the scene . . .
Last week, my son’s school held its Culture Week and on the last day parents were invited to an assembly to see some of the things they’d been learning about. My son’s class had been learning all about France and were told they could go to school in French clothes so on Thursday night, after learning his spellings and reading his book, we spent the evening looking up French phrases and rummaging around for suitable clothing. Simple really. Not much imagination required . . . black and white stripey top, red scarf, beret and black pants . . . et voilà! I did want him to dress up as Marcel Marceau but he said it involved way too much make-up for a boy.
On top of all that, Middlie’s school was having a non-uniform day so she needed help/advice on deciding what to wear. And for those of you who don’t yet know, a non-uniform day is a very-serious-event for a twelve-year-old. Get it wrong and your child can be traumatised for weeks.
So, busy, busy night.
On the morning itself we were rushing around making sure they hadn’t forgotten anything. My son’s French moustache needed to be repeatedly re-applied due to toothpaste, breakfast milk and a runny nose. Tweenie needed twelve million reassurances that everything matched and she didn’t look like a freak and no, she shouldn’t change into her red skirt and yes, her hair looks better tied up and no, her top would not look better with a belt and yes she looked just fine and no, she didn’t have any smudges on her face . . . . . .
So, busy, busy morning too.
And when I finally dropped them off and got myself to work, I realised that I didn’t know what time the assembly started. He had brought a letter home but I forgot to read it due to aforementioned busy night and morning. My friend helpfully suggested that I call the school but what she didn’t realise was that calling the school for information that has already been sent out via the child is one of those unspoken, unwritten you-just-don’t-do rules unless you want a mouthful of school-sarcasm that will make you wither in your shoes. It’s worse than asking if you can go to the loo for a pee. But I wasn’t about to miss any of the assembly after all the hard work I’d put in so I just had to make that call.
I prayed to the gods of mercy to let anyone but the headmistress answer but nope, it was her, in all her glory. I gulped and quickly rushed out the question . . . Hi, um, what time does the assembly start today?
To which she replied . . . I really don’t know why we bother sending out letters, you’re about the fifteen person to call asking that question. Could I please ask you in future to check your child’s bag every night for letters. We really don’t have time to keep answering the phone like this.
Those forty-some little words may look harmless enough but you have to understand, intonation is everything here and believe me, I’d have preferred a bloody detention – with lines!
In my head, I had a calm but firm reply ready which went something like this . . . yes, I’m sorry, but I am a working mum with three children who are all at different schools/colleges. They all needed my help last night and I simply forgot to check out the details in your letter. If you’d just quickly tell me the time it starts, we can stop wasting more time and get on can’t we. Thank you.
Out of my mouth, my actual reply went something like this . . . Yes, I’m so sorry, Mrs ****. I know you must be so busy. How annoying for you. I’m such a dope, I forgot to check the details.
Pathetic isn’t it. I might as well have added . . . No Miss . . . it won’t happen again Miss, I promise.
Anyway, the assembly was great. The kids clearly enjoyed learning all about different countries and the mood of the lovely Head teacher in question had improved somewhat muchly due, I’d say, to the fact that it was the end of the last day of term.