I had to take Lily to the vet's today for her regular blood test. I was washing my hands before I left, and dropped the bar of soap into the sink. It landed on its end and stayed there. A very thin end, in a sloping sink with the tap running. The unlikely nature of this brought back a memory from years ago, not long after I started teaching. I had a reception class with children of 4 and 5. This class was one of my favourite ever. There were so many funny personalities, and, considering I have been teaching for 26 years, and have had a lot of classes, I remember a lot about this one.
Any Reception teacher will tell you that the hardest parts of a P.E. lesson are the beginning and the end, when the children are getting changed. Some of them have never got themselves dressed or undressed before, and my job is to help them achieve independence in this area. Over the years I have developed almost foolproof systems for doing this, mainly by watching very capable teaching assistants and nursery nurses, but at that time my systems were not developed, and I was on my own, so 30 small people with kits on within 15 minutes was an achievement.
On the particular day I remember, they had got changed, and were lined up to go into the hall. We were just next to it so no problem. I stayed at the back of the line, and put George in charge at the front. George liked to be in charge. He was quite good at it. He was part of a double act with his friend P.J.. George had glasses, with quite a strong prescription, and had to put a temporary patch behind one lens each afternoon, to strengthen the other eye. P.J. had a kidney problem, which meant he had to go to the toilet a lot, and drink lots of water. Unusually for that time, he had his own bottle of water with him all the time. These additional needs may have been labelled that by the profession and me, but to George and P.J. they were not additional at all. They were the main feature, and as such, needed a lot of maintenance and meant that other matters may not be quite as interesting as I hoped. What was so sweet about them, was how they used to help each other to sort out the water/patch situation, and were pretty independent about it. (Small children's independence is a great thing, and I obviously aim to promote and build this, but it takes time, and sometimes time is what you don't have as much of as you would like!)
Anyway, we were lined up, and I had laid out large plastic hoops on the floor for them to sit in at the beginning of the lesson. George and P.J. went in, and within seconds, George was out again, bustling down the line to me, saying, "Miss Wallis, Miss Wallis, P.J.s pooed on a hoop!"
The line came to a halt, and I went to the front to check out this improbable story. On the second hoop from the door, there sat, perfectly balanced, a small egg shaped poo. Balanced. On end. On the rounded surface of a plastic hoop that was about one centimetre across. How?! And how did he do it that quickly?!
So, our lesson was condensed to getting undressed and dressed, witnessing a miracle, then getting undressed and dressed again. You may wonder why we couldn't do the lesson, but things like poo and vomit require the services of your friendly premises manager-just in case of diseases, and it is not always easy to get hold of them in the day.
So, thank you P.J. and George, for still making me laugh 23 years later!