So we’re back to ‘school’ now for the last term of the school year. My daughter has unfortunately been saddled with a lousy teacher during this home schooling period. At the beginning I thought that my normal job of teaching adults would be of great benefit during this difficult time. I generally pride myself on being a patient person, and reasonably good at explaining things, and I was looking forward to the challenge.
I quickly learned that it’s easy to be patient when you haven’t been woken up at 7am by your student accidentally poking you in the eye, and wanting to know if they can have an ice lolly. It’s also easier if, before the lesson starts, you haven’t had to threaten your pupil with armageddon unless they go and wave a flannel somewhere vaguely near their body, for all our sakes. Or had to cope with the resulting twenty-minute whinge about how I’m basically a prison guard, and can’t I see how unfair I’m being, since I made them wash YESTERDAY?
Therefore, my standard teaching style has left the building, and I am forging a new path through the wilderness of primary school education. For Maths, standard procedure is to:
1) watch the assigned video with a look of fascination on my face in case my daughter sneaks a glance over at me. Try not to think about everything else I should be doing
2) read the first question with zero understanding
3) get annoyed
4) Google it
5) not understand a single word of the ‘easy explanations’ Google presents me with
6) wonder how I managed to pass Maths G.C.S.E.
7) ask my daughter what she thinks the answer is
8) say ‘well done’, regardless of accuracy, and move on to the next question
9) repeat, adding an extra 10% annoyance each time
In Science, my ten-year-old is learning about the importance of a balanced diet. During these lessons I head off to the kitchen to prepare her a suitably healthy snack of fruit, yoghurt, or cheese. I then proceed straight back to the kitchen to prepare my own snack. This usually involves hiding behind the tall cupboard door and stuffing a Mars bar into my mouth as fast as is humanly possible, before I’m caught.
Of course, kids have a radar for this kind of thing, so inevitably one of them will come into the kitchen the second the chocolate hits my taste buds. I am then limited to two choices (unless you include confessing, which I don’t). Firstly, I can speedily use my tongue to push the remaining chocolate into the side of my mouth and hope they don’t notice how it makes me speak like Kenneth Williams, not to mention the fact that I look like an oversized and particularly greedy hamster. Alternatively, I can feign a coughing fit, spit the chocolate out into my hand and hope to God they don’t choose that moment to suggest a high five.
Once that hurdle is cleared, it’s back to school and we plough through the rest of the day’s topics with mutual dread and confusion, with the odd beacon of light thrown in (I was going to say English, but more accurately, lunch)
When the school day is over, it’s time to pack my entire day of work into the remaining couple of hours before dinner. This leaves me with just enough fuel to fight the thirty or so compulsory battles before bedtime, finishing with the nightly decision over whether ‘she hit me first!’ is in fact, a valid argument.
By which time I’m ready to sink down onto the sofa and I have energy left for two things. First, watching my puppy bark at the dustpan and brush for ten minutes straight. And second, a glass of wine. And by glass, I mean vat.
Bring on Bedtime!