"Mad Jack McMad ......"
I know this may be stating the obvious but your school years have a major impact on you, both psychologically and developmentally. As is probably the case for most people, there are one or two teachers from my school years that are forever etched on my mind; thankfully they are memories that promote positive feelings.
If I dig a little deeper however, I can remember the spiteful, nasty pigs that somehow managed to persuade whoever it was that interviewed them at the time, that they would be a perfect choice to be let loose near children and teach them a given subject over the period of 5 years.
I can remember the history teacher (who shared a name with a certain British Prime Minister) who would make the person who answered incorrectly stand on a chair, empty the contents of the waste paper basket onto the floor (this was to be worn upturned on the head of aforementioned pupil), before getting the rest of the class to line up and throw the crumpled pieces of paper at whoever it was standing on the chair.
It was often me.
There was the short dumpy Geography teacher who would tell me to shut up (before I had actually said anything) and to leave the room literally as I was walking into it.
I think the best one though was the husband and wife art teachers (who was, according to herself, a genuine white witch), who had the best punishment of all.
Do you remember those huge 5kg square tubs of powder paint that every art room was stocked with? They had a wide plastic handle to carry them by? Well our mentally unstable art teachers thought it would be a great laugh to remove said plastic handles and replace them with …….. wire.
It wasn’t as thin as fuse wire (so what am I moaning about right?) and it wasn’t as thick as, say, coat hangar wire but it was wire. If you stepped out of line in this class, you had to carry a tub of paint in each hand, by the wire, up and down the length of the entire corridor with the teacher standing at the door and telling you off all the while you were trying not to think of the wire digging deeper and deeper into the creases of your fingers.
Going back a few years more and into primary school, I remember the teacher who, for a reason I cannot explain, terrified me and I did not make it easy for whoever it was that dropped me off at school in the morning. I would scream, hold on to drain pipes, door handles, other people, whatever I could do to not be taken into that teachers room.
I smile at these memories as I climb the short flights of stairs to my new classrooms in my new job. One of the perks of my job (which might not seem much at all to anyone else), is that on occasion, I catch a glimpse of one, if not both, of my children in the playground.
I am usually 3 stories up as I see them but I am lucky to be able to pause and enjoy what I see.
Yesterday I saw Joseph with his classmates during a PE lesson out on the tarmac. He was paired with a friend and they were throwing a football to each other, attempting to catch it. Joseph was roaring with laughter, whether he caught the ball or dropped it, obviously enjoying himself.
Today, Annabel was playing in the little play area dedicated to the nursery children and she too was playing happily, firstly on her own and then with her friends, talking to herself, pushing her hair out of her eyes, running this way and that.
Both encounters, although brief, make me smile, pleased that I can see first hand that my children really are happy at their primary school. It is so important that they enjoy themselves, for me at any rate.
Like any other parent, all I ever got from either of them when I asked about their respective days at school, was a grunt, or “it was fine”, or “can I have a snack?” but now at least, I get to see that they are happy, that they are settled.
And it feels damn good.