I had 4 hours to myself. Did I go and treat myself? Pamper myself? Go shopping? Just sit and stare into space knowing that I had 4 hours to myself? Eat something without having to part with half of it to stop the whining?
Nope, I went to help at the 4 year old's school.
For weeks she nagged ... and nagged ... and nagged "Everybody elses parents [in the whole wide world and universe] go into school to help".
I had to explain that I work whilst she's at school and only if I were to take holiday would I be able to help. That was my first mistake. My second was taking pity on her. She's been very clingy of late when I drop her at school and I felt sorry for her. So I arranged with her teacher to go in for the afternoon.
We had a discussion on the way to school in the morning about us being 'sensible' at school. She couldn't cling to me like a leech, show me her bottom or lick my face like she does at home. Similarly I couldn't fart the theme tune to Peppa Pig*, lick her face or dance like Baloo. We made a deal.
I arrived just as they were finishing lunchtime play. The children came in and sat on the carpet. The 4 year old walked in, looked at me, walked past me and then blanked me. She was perhaps taking our deal too seriously. I can't remember a clause in the deal that said 'pretend you're an orphan'.
When the teacher arrived she sat on a little persons chair and introduced me to the class. Three of the children (who have been for a fishfinger tea at our house) chortled at having to call me by my 'Mrs' name. They were probably having a flashback to my Baloo dancing. The 4 year old shuffled closer to my legs which were almost under my chin. I too was sat on a very small persons chair.
I have always liked the 4 year olds teacher. She is 'firm but fair'. The sort of woman you think is lovely but you wouldn't want to cross. I was in awe of her ability to work with one child at a table and see five children at different points of the classroom misbehaving. Without missing a beat she shot them a look which made them stop dead in their tracks. Genius.
I have made a mental note; At next parents evening ask teacher for tips on how to perfect the 'stop them dead' glare. I wouldn't need to write to Supernanny if I could do that.
I helped some children with numeracy. At any one time I had a maximum of four children in my group. Each one had a different agenda. The child who wanted to be out in the playground, the child who wanted to draw cyclopses instead of cars, the child eager to please and the child who completed the task before I'd even told them what to do. It was hard work but we got there in the end.
After playtime the children sat on the carpet for some religious education whilst I helped to tidy the classroom. At story time I returned to my teeny weeny chair and watched the children sit silently listening to 'Mog's Christmas', a month late.
Then we said the going home prayer. Setting a good example I clasped my hands together, bowed my head and listened (as all good athiests do at times like this).
As the children mumbled their prayer I heard the teacher in a cross voice say to the child to my right;
"John you should be talking to God, not Elizabeth**"
* I really didn't do this, but wish I could. At the point of reading 'theme tune to Peppa Pig' I imagine you were working out how many farts and of what length it would take to accomplish.
** Names have been changed to protect the not so innocent