On Friday morning I was balanced on a miniature chair at a regular size table in the back of a school hall…
I was surrounded by tea, cake and mobile phones as they awaited the arrival of the ‘performers’. We didn’t have to wait long and I’d only just started on my second cup of tea when a selection of four- and five-year-olds made their way to the stage. The first group did not include my son but did include a disturbingly upset little chap who clearly did not want to be at school, let alone perform at a coffee morning – his rendition of Down In The Jungle was particularly unconvincing. The young performer was further exasperated by the sight of his mum on the table in front of me. In spite of the sobbing, the rest of the class ploughed on admirably and – mercifully – at the end of the number, the boy was allowed to be consoled by his mum.
After the warm up act – the main event – my youngest son, and his class entered the performance arena. They treated us to three songs in total. My son decided to stand incredibly still and grin during his first number – very little, if any, sound came out of his mouth. But, as his confidence grew, his performance of I’m A Little Teapot will go down in history. At one point, I actually believed he was a real tea pot. My ‘baby’ boy had been at school for three weeks and, just like his teapot performance, had settled into his new routine with enthusiasm and ease.
In a slightly strange role-twist, my wife is more emotionally stable when it comes to school dropoff, so I waited a few days before my first experience with my second son. Turns out the reception classroom is still the war zone I remember it to be: parents crying, kids crying, snot everywhere… I found a familiar set of challenges to navigate reminiscent of the Crystal Maze. The water bottle box, the name badge onto the board and the coat and bag onto the peg – all in different locations around the room. As I walked around, following my son who remained emotionally unfazed by the chaos around him – we only had one minor disagreement when he insisted that he hang his coat upside down on his peg as ‘that’s the most fun way to do it’. I managed to let the coat incident go and my son took his place on the mat, as I tip-toed my way through children who now seemed to be sitting cross-legged all over the floor.
As I left the classroom, past the scrum of other parents both consoling and congratulating each other, the reality of having two boys in school started to sink in. Faith tells me the house is weirdly quiet and I’m not mad keen on them growing up so fast. But, I know that they love school – the friends, the fun and the teapot songs – and as I cycle to work, that’s good enough.