Thursday, 22 March 2012

tinker tailor soldier florist

We attended our first parents evening the other day.

I know. So what. But this is a biggie for me. I have waited 30 years for this, to be the one asking the questions rather than the subject of them.

But, like all the ones my own parents trooped reluctantly along to, strangely attired in their Sunday clothes (they never went out, other than to Mass) and oddly together, it was a crashing anti-climax.

First of all, Snooks came with us. This was on the cunning advice – to all parents - of the teachers. Apart from hampering any meaningful discussion about progress it also put a stop to any debate about the child’s behaviour as it was there for all to see. All we had to do was stand and watch Snooks hammering on the door pleading to be let out. Nice one.

Anyway amid the racket it emerged that he is good at numbers, he plays with lots of different children (girls not so much), he loves being outside and he is the only child in the class who can recognise and name a hyacinth.

Is that it? I felt like shouting. We went through all this – the Engineer home early from work, me in a skirt, Snooks in his personal hell (trapped inside the prison he endures daily with all the adults he knows talking about him) – for this!

It took me right back to those evenings when my parents would return looking glazed and were unable to recall anything the teachers had said. I sometimes wondered if they had spoken about me at all or just took the opportunity to talk shop about the respective schools where they all taught and the pupils in them.

“Did she mention my biology project?”

“No but if Our Lady’s is using Mother of God’s football pitch for rounders practice this summer, we are going to have to up our game."

I suppose I should be pleased. Others mothers were holding whispered conversations with a different teacher which looked far more fruitful but may have been less reassuring.

And I suppose at least it means I know my own son as I could have told her all that six months ago.

And I am happy about the hyacinth. He does love his flowers and always stops to smell them. He can identify geraniums, roses, poppies, pansies, primula, daffodils (he likes how they “horn out”), daisies, dandelions, tulips and of course narcissus.

Today we saw robins, canaries and finches at the farm and a pied wagtail in the garden.

He can distinguish and name pigeons, magpies, sparrows, hawks, herons, geese, moorhens and of course ducks.

We regularly check up on our friends in the garden; a giant slug who lived under the geranium pots until he “slugged off” (to use Snooks’ words) for the winter, a frog who visits from next door’s ponds and hides under the lavender, the Crocs-eating fox who gets in under the fence and mooches around when we are not looking and two cats who lounge around on the shed roof as if it were their own private St. Barts.

We talked yesterday about what he would like to be when he grows up. Firstly he wanted to work with Daddy - that was a given. They would engineer together, side by side. Then I threw in some obvious alternative suggestions - doctor, pilot, teacher? (That got laughed out of court as being “for girls.”) Then he considered living at the international space station, which was good, so long as we went there with him. And finally he settled on tree surgeon or forester. He liked the idea of living among the trees and having one of those big electric saws.

Yes I can see that for my little nature boy. It might be a bit solitary but it’s a lot easier to visit than space.

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