Tuesday, July 18, 2006

act your age not your shoe size

I reach out and catch Joseph's hand as he storms past me on his way out of the classroom. He's storming pretty slowly, and wants to be caught. He yields immediately, leaning backwards towards me until he's actually sitting on my knee. 'What's the matter with him?' I ask his Teaching Assistant. 'He wants to play with the pencils but the other children need to use them', she says.

'Are you ticklish?' I mutter conspiratorially in his ear, deciding to try the distraction route. 'Oh, he's very ticklish' smiles the TA, and I try a gentle exploratory tickle. I am now probably breaking at least three laws, but Joseph's face is no longer turned pointedly away from me, and his face has broken into a smile. 'If you play with the pencils when other people need them' I whisper 'I'll tell Mrs Minty to tickle you'. That's probably four laws, but Joseph is now chuckling. He slides off my lap and walks back to his seat, disarmed for at least the next five minutes.

When we get to the end of the day, I stop Ronan as he is leaving the classroom. 'You've behaved brilliantly today', I praise, mindful of last week's five-day report. 'Well done, I'm really proud of you'. I am all over-the-top soupy primary school teacher, but I am genuinely pleased that the day has passed without incident. His arms snake around my waist and as he squeezes me he rests his head on my shoulder. It's been a while since anyone touched me, and nowadays it is always a surprise which jolts me, in this case into completely forgetting my professionalism.
'Ahh, that's nice' I say, patting him on the shoulder. Wrong move.

Before I know it, his arms have slipped up and around my neck, and to my horror I look down and see his nine year old moon face tilted up towards mine: eyes closed, lips puckered. He's forgotten himself, too.

'Er, no. Ronan', I say quickly, shrugging him off. 'I don't do kissing.'

He trots out of the classroom, happy and oblivious. I rush to the staffroom to pass on the latest Ronanism, and to recover from my narrow escape.