Our one’s teacher doesn’t walk, she glides. I imagine birds circle her head every morning chirping Taylor Swift songs as she clicks her fingers to summon the perfect hair-bun before fiddling her gossamer wings into a timeless dress that floats behind her like a magic carpet tucked into her knickers. I haven’t had a crush on a teacher since Miss O’Shea when I was 13, yet here I am kneeling next to a three-year old smiling just as inanely up at one without the excuse of an inability to go the toilet unaccompanied, or distinguish between the sleuth talents of our neighbour’s jack russell and Scooby Doo.
Stepping into her
enchanted castle office for the parent/teacher meeting, I was presented with a detailed progress report. After initial thoughts of “what the fuck?”, I concluded it was a good job since I was mesmerised by her green liquid eyeliner. So evenly applied. So compatible with her skin tone. So not more than 28 …Sorry, what was that?.. Oh yes… hand-to-eye coordination. I nodded earnestly, equal parts impressed and alarmed by the A4 breakdown. Impressed they’d obviously paid her considerable attention since arrival; alarmed she’d only been there a matter of weeks but was already firmly lodged in The System. Not to mention disappointed my own mother never got to experience a thumbs-up report on me.
In my day *pipe lip-smacks* reports were strictly the preserve of secondary school; intercepted, of course. At three years of age, there was a good chance I hadn’t yet reached the developmental milestone of helping myself to an extended lunch-break. We’re in the golden age of school reports, I reasoned; an opportune time to register any non-threatening concerns either of us have. Enjoy it while it lasts. Ten years from now I’ll be drowning in thought infested waters struggling to offer a reasonable explanation for why she fired soggy bog-roll up at the gym ceiling.
Unsurprisingly, I learned she waits until she’s home to externalise her thoughts on all of life’s injustices. Her Dad will be proud she isn’t bringing shame on the family, I scoffed. Following in his footsteps, she looked bewildered as her Granny later commended her on the report. Oh no, here comes the merits-of-a-career-in-medicine talk. I jest. That’s not for another year.
I maintained a steady ambivalence about it all, interrupted by an irrational rant on the dangers of making pat assessments so early on in a child’s life. Then I bumped into Ashleen, who supervises the breakfast club. We get to call her by her first name so already we’re on the level, and I don’t smile like I’m on something, like sleep deprivation, or Skype. Without a desk between us, she reminisced about the quiet girl that turned up in the first week compared to the one full of chat now, who gets the jokes and is not afraid to a crack a few of her own. Sounded to me like she had her down pat.