Email from my brother : School starting

I'm a bit behind with posting emails from my brother, so this is the first of two this week


Hi Fay,

How’s it going?  I read your blog today and saw your weekly meal plans.  All I can say is “an emotional problem coming in from the rear”.  I may have read this wrong of course but I don’t want to be corrected … or know the context.

This week was Eva’s first full week of primary school and as far as I’m concerned her first proper day at school.  Juliette took her in last week for two half days and her first official full day but I reckon until that first day of a proper solid routine (me, Sam and her going to school like we’re going to be doing for the next few years) then it’s not proper.

So Monday rolled around and it was seriously pissing it down.  School starts at 9 am but, get this, we have to be there by 8.45 am for a load of shit I don’t remember having to do back in 1976 at College Road Primary.  It’s a foreign country and all and some decades on in educational knowledge I know but “what the f*ck!?”.  Sam’s over a year and half old now so he can do all the facial expressions he needs and he’s looking at me like “what the f*ck!?”.  You see we’ve got to be at school by 8.45am so that I, the parent, can sit Eva down and go through a reading book with her before she writes out her “pattern book” (practice hand writing book) before 9am bell.

I’m looking at Sam and Sam’s looking at me and we’re both thinking “don’t we just slow down to 5 mph, open a door and let Eva jump out as we pass the school?”  Sam’s thinking that this is going to cut into his Bob The Builder time and I’m thinking “I’m going to have to put some deodorant on, aren’t I.”

So Monday it’s like sheeting it down and I have to get Eva and Sam togged up in water proofs, get myself togged up in water proofs, strap them in the car (one half of you hanging out in the rain, the part not covered by a coat, while the child in question wriggles and laughs and plays up in the dry) before hopping on over to feed the alpacas, Guinea Pigs and chickens before changing my Wellington boots and getting back in the car, sort out World War III that’s happening between the two of them before taking Eva to school.

We get there and go into the classroom where Eva’s new teacher is trying to figure out what to do.  It’s her second week in a new job and she hasn’t figured out what’s going on either yet.  I remind her about me teaching her to read and she says oh yes before getting out a book and the pattern book and asking Eva to get her “toolkit”.  The toolkit is a little basket with “Eva” written on it and contains all of her pens and pencils (which we had to buy and write Eva’s name on before joining).  I’m probably being horribly old fashioned but back in my day we used to have a “pencil case” rather than a “toolkit” because let’s face it, calling anything containing stuff that’s useful a “toolkit” is dumbed down moronic.  That’s not a cutlery draw, it’s a toolkit.  That’s not a paint box, it’s a toolkit.  That’s not a bag of spanners it’s a toolkit.  Wait, the last one is accurate.

Anyway I didn’t pass comment out loud on the “toolkit” because I’m a tiny coward but I did sit Eva down and start going through the reading book.  Bearing in mind that Sam is a toddler, bored, wants to play and wants me to play with him and also that there’s other children and their parents in the room with their own younger siblings all trying to do the same thing (read the frigging book), then I reckon this exercise is designed not to teach the kids to read but to teach them Zen Master levels of concentration in the face of disruption.   Seriously, a more conductive academic atmosphere can be found in the mosh pit of a thrash metal concert.

I have to say that those two years paying for Eva to attend a Montessori pre-school have finally paid off.  After two years of identifying countries on maps of the world, stacking cylinders in unit volume size, learning Italian and generally Krypton Factoring the shit out of things we finally got to see some results.  Day 3 at primary school and she sits down and reads the frigging book.  Day 3 of my primary school education and probably just about worked out which toilet to pee in.  Eva sits down and reads her book and I’m looking over at the couple whose boy probably spent his pre-school years attending a playgroup where you wore a plastic fireman’s hat backwards and peddled around on a tricycle until you smashed into a wall.  “Oh,” I say all innocently, “after I dropped that Satsuma on little Eva’s head when she was one I was worried she’d got brain damage and would never learn,” (Eva reads out loud the last pages of the book like she’s speaking her own thoughts), “but it seems she’s finally caught up and can read.  What a relief!  How’s your son coming along?”

Anyway it’s Olympic School Sports Day tomorrow.  Eva has to dress up in the flag colours of her designated country.  She got Germany, so I got her Adolf Hitler dress up costume ready.  She hasn’t worn it for ages, I hope it still fits.

Take care,
Mark xxxx
As always Mark ......

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