Last week.

On a cold Wednesday morning.

I was sent to the headmaster’s office.

At a school that Izobel might move to when she finishes nursery later this year.

The Headmaster. 

The last time this happened.

I thought to myself.

As I clip-clopped down a brightly lit and unusually narrow corridor.

I was twatted on the arse with a slipper.

(I was 14.

It wasn’t my fault.

It was the others.

But I got twatted anyway).

Slipper Shite.

When I met the headmaster last Wednesday morning.

I relaxed.

He was much smaller than me.

So if he started any of that slipper shite this time.

I’d have him.

Mr Whateverhisnamewas.

I remember focusing on the headmaster’s last name.

More than his first name.

And when I spoke to him.

I did actually call him Mr. Whateverhisnnamewas.

Because that’s what you do with headmasters.

No matter how old you are.

The Presentation. 

There was a presentation.

In a too small room.

Containing too many people.

To my left, there was a gymnasium.

Four year olds bounced up and down like kangaroos.

Then wriggled like snakes.

Then hopped like rabbits on their haunches.

I smiled at the innocence.

And the safety.

And it did feel safe.

That was what mattered most to me on last week’s cold Wednesday morning.

And any morning, actually.

Izobel’s safety.

The Tapestry.

Then, I glanced to my right.

To the only thing that furnished any wall in this small, dimly lit room.

A colourful tapestry.

Home made.

(Well.

School made).

And I focused on the first three words I saw.

The words were:

Vegans.

Muslims.

And

Lesbians.

Vegans, Muslims and Lesbians. 

In my lifetime.

A bit like an episode of Blankety Blank.

There have been periods where perhaps the most popular word to prefix with any of these three words.

Was, ‘bloody’.

I smiled as this thought entered my head.

And I closed my eyes in the half-light.

Unnoticed.

I smiled as I realised that this is the school that.

If I chose it.

Would help my four year old daughter.

To understand in probably as much detail as she dug for.

What it felt like to be a bouncy kangaroo.

Or a wriggly snake.

Or a hopping rabbit.

Or a Vegan.

A Muslim.

Or a Lesbian.

The Test. 

I have faced many tests in schools, colleges and universities.

Some I passed.

Some I failed.

But none was ever as poignant as the test I faced on a cold Wednesday morning last week.

A test of whether I wanted my four year old to be indulged and indeed encouraged to imagine and explore the feelings of kangaroos, snakes, rabbits, vegans, Muslims and lesbians.

The test was a poignant one.

But rather an easy one, too.

And I passed.

Izobel starts there in September.

2 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Claire Jerrard Reply

    Michael, I can’t wait to read what you have to say in September about all the right on, we’re better than you parents you will meet.

    A couple of pointers for you:

    Pecking order will be established very early on with the “Top Twat” badge being awarded to whoever creates the Whatsapp group first. This person will be a creative genius and will spend hours thinking about what to call said group, “Reception class of 2020” will be the stand out choice !

    ….And then the fun begins, they will regale you with stories about how their child is already reading Harry Potter and can do their 12 times table in Russian.

    Then comes the message where they share spellings homework and you realise that your kid doesn’t get spellings homework because they can’t f**king read because they’re too busy playing outside, eating muck.

    The best bit is when they spark up shit craic on a Friday night after you’ve had way to much Malbec…this is normally the point a splinter Whatsapp group gets set up called “Reception “C***Ts of 2020″ or ” Life’s too short to dry clean Boden” or even “Hand Sanitizer is for pussys” !
    Disclaimer: try not to get the two groups confused

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