I was walking Narla our German Shepherd (a dog, rather than a Shepherd from Germany), and the walk took us past our village school. The classrooms were empty and I could see the chairs on top of the desks to facilitate the cleaning.
This instantly brought a nostalgic smile to my face as I recalled my first ever day at school many decades ago.
I remember being painfully shy and cried my eyes out as my mum finally managed to prise my fingers off her hand so she could leave me inside the school gates. I was definitely a mummys-boy, and the thought of being abandoned amongst complete strangers was almost too much to bear. I would quite happily been the only boy in the school who had his mummy sitting alongside him during every class, sadly they were unwilling to make an exception.
As it happens, a kindly teacher (Mrs Shepherd) took charge of the blubbering wreck that was me, and Shepherded me to my new classroom at Carfield School in Sheffield, England, to begin a dazzling academic career which would ultimately result in 5 GCSE type qualifications. (For perspective, that was relatively rubbish, I was too easily distracted :-)
Anyway, I enjoyed my first day despite the self-imposed rocky start. I recall painting a highly abstract picture which I thought was pretty obviously a fairground, though probably had the teacher wondering if there might be “special needs” in my future.
At the end of the school day Mrs Shepherd announced to us that we should “tidy our books away, and put our chairs on top of our desks”. Upon saying that she headed to the staff room for a minute while we carried out her instructions.
So tidying the desk was obvious enough, but what was this thing about putting chairs on top of desks? We looked at each other in puzzlement, but one young lad who was clearly destined to be “a leader of men”, probably a future Prime Minister, (I think his name was Boris?) understood the instruction. He placed his chair on top of his desk, then climbed up and sat on it.
Sheep-like, within seconds, the rest of us had followed his example.
When Mrs Shepherd returned from the staff room, she was confronted by thirty, five-year-old’s balanced precariously on their chairs on top of their desks. We had no idea why we were up there, other than that’s what we had been asked to do. That’s the thing with five-year-old’s, they take you literally, and they’re not very bright!
Mrs Shepherd let out a kind of shriek! A hybrid response between suppressed laughter and a simultaneous flash of horror at the injuries that would befall any of us should one of our chair legs slip off the edge of our desk.
We all got down very carefully, as instructed, and Mrs Shepherd learned a valuable lesson about leaving her flock of 5-year old’s to work it out for themselves, however obvious it might seem to the grown-up mind!
John Drew, CEO, Elevated Planet (ps. I no longer need my mummy)
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