The bell rings. School starts.
Twenty five little bodies, deposit 25 school bags on pegs or shelves and enter the classroom, collectively lugging enough coloured pencils, glow pens and crayons you sniff to sink a ship (yes, the red one really does smell like strawberries.)
I approach my desk to the strains of:
I wanted to sit there; you sat at that table last term.
That’s my pencil. It has my teeth marks on the end of it. See – right there.
I’m going on the computer first. I missed my turn yesterday when I was away.
No you’re not. New rules. If you are away you miss out. It’s my turn.
Are we having art today? You promised…..
It’s 9:05 and we’re not yet in our seats.
Twenty odd homework sheets (and 5 good excuses for missing ones) are deposited in the ‘Marking Tray,’ Gavin the class goldfish is fed, five lost pencils, two hats with no names and a raincoat (still neatly and lovingly folded by mother’s hands and undisturbed due to drought) are returned to their owners and we are finally ready to start the day.
Not quite. Little Johnny realises an important note from mum is still in his bag, so he dashes out to retrieve it. In his haste he knocks the table that supports Gavin and his bowl. Gav and several litres of water splash unceremoniously out onto innocent bystanders who instantly shriek and complain loudly. Little Johnny instantly buries himself in his bag and refuses to return to the classroom to face the music.
A mad grab for Gavin ensues, lest he take his last gasp in front of the class. Out of the corner of my eye I’m scanning the wall for the school counsellor’s extension number – grief counselling could be in demand within minutes.
The more competitive members of the class (no prizes for guessing their gender) are elbowing each other out of the way to be the hero who rescues Gav and returns him to his watery home. Tom in his exuberance elbows Bob square in the eye and the wails of pain and annoyance are only outdone by the triumphant scream of the winner of the goldfish rescue.
Bob is dispatched to sickbay for an icepack (O H & S procedures kicking in) with an escort of the two class captains, both very happy to have an important job so early in the day and suitably glad they remembered to wear their badges.
With Gavin safely back in his bowl, cherubs dried and pacified, homework sheets drying by the window and nerves just a little frayed I attempt to start the day. The computer monitors inform me that the new passwords registered only yesterday aren’t working and they are locked out of all the programs. I appoint a monitor to start “News” out the front, while I make my way to the back of the room, silently cursing technology and averting my gaze from the smiley stickers on the wall proclaiming “Computers are fun.”
Out of frustration and a desperate need to actually start ‘teaching’ (that is after all what I come here for isn’t it???) I boot up all the computers using my name and password. I prefer sanity to privacy at this stage of the proceedings.
. Within minutes several cherubs are quietly ensconced in cyberspace and my gaze returns to the front of the room. The boys have grown tired of looking at Mandy’s latest doll, equipped with interchangeable eyelashes to match her numerous handbags, and are wrestling happily under a table. I open my mouth to intervene, but not before they kick over the extra large, and unfortunately lidless, glass jar labeled “Guess the number of jellybeans.”
Words fail me for what happens next………