A Lesson for Life

A report came out this week that increasing numbers of primary school children are not toilet trained.   This reminded me of when I was placed in work experience in an infant school as a 15 year old, as one child wet himself then.

In America I believe this would be the age before your kindergarden – funny how you adopted a German word for this, but then they probably bombed our Victorian school buildings so we never took kindly to using their term.

This is actually the infant school I attended, you may have one in your back garden commonly referred to as a shed

I learnt a lot that on work experience week, I mostly learnt that I never want children.

On my first day one child took it upon himself to jump up and grab onto my shirt pockets, he clung for a second but slowly the seams split and the pockets pulled off as he fell to the floor.  This resulted in a handy modification if someone was breastfeeding but useless otherwise.

My reaction was swift, I swore loudly.  The F word spat from my lips, the kid stood back aghast,  he looked as if he had never heard this word before but knew it was bad, very bad.

I imagine he went home and told his mother to Fuck Off, he’s probably in prison now, a bright future ruined.  I can’t help but feel partially responsible.

At playtime later that day I was happily chatting to the other work experience people on the playing field and two kids lay down and latched onto one of my legs each.  Assuming this was a game as I proceeded to drag my legs under their weight and set off across the field, it didn’t cross my mind that it had been raining and I was dragging them through mud.

Later one child came to me as he had wet himself, so had to help him sort himself out.  I didn’t sign up for this.   Actually I never signed up for anything so I was placed there  (I was in my teen angst grunge/goth phase, no one was gonna make me do anything man)

Back at the school, things improved after a nightmare first day.  There was a lot happening that week as it coincided with teddy bear week.  Everyone had to bring in their own teddy bears to school and throughout the week we would build a forest in the corner of the room and have a picnic on the last day.

One child, Toby, had no teddy bears, I found him crying about it,  so after lengthy negotiations with my sister I borrowed a giant smurf cuddly toy which was bigger than the child himself.  He was overjoyed and I began to worry how I was going to explain his non -return to my sister.   I blamed Gargamel.

On the last day after the picnic in our newly built forest of crepe paper and toilet roll tubes, the pupils each handed me picture of myself they had drawn.

They were pretty shit, but for a brief moment it cracked my stone heart.

My class at teddy bear week, 20 odd years ago, note Smurf on the bottom right seems to have passed out

I never changed my mind on wanting kids but imagine that a kid had no teddy bears, that many cannot use the toilet, some may never have read a book, some are fed on McDonald’s.  People I know and from what I know of fellow bloggers are all fantastic parents.  I chose never to go down that path, it’s a huge undertaking – the most important job you’ll ever have is to create a decent human being.

A couple of years later having gained some focus I had aspirations to be a journalist, whilst on work experience at a local newspaper this dream fizzled away.   I was sent home halfway through after being given the task of writing up minutes from Women’s Institute meetings all week.  (My ideas to liven up a WI meeting is a post for another time)

I overheard them tell my tutor I was ‘gormless’!   I argued writing up minutes from those meetings would be enough to make anyone gormless and I was not there to do the skivvy work but to gain work experience – in hindsight I guess they were doing exactly that!

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13 Comments

  1. There is too much to comment on here. the breastfeeding joke was hysterical. You had a teen angst/goth phase? Write a post on that. Teddy Bear Day–my daughter just had one last month. Thank the good lord she actually had a teddy bear to bring in or she’d be facing years of therapy.

    And you’ve nailed what being a parent is all about. You don’t even need to have kids to know how hard it can be. If my kids turn out to be kind to others and helpful to society in some way, I’ve done a good job. (but it’s exhausting work!)

    Reply
  2. I imagine Jeffrey Dahmer’s mother trying to recall when it went wrong!

    I wonder how my parents managed on one meagre income, and often used to feel for my dad when his lottery numbers never came up and screwed his ticket into a ball. He was a talented artist but dropped it all to get a warehouse job to raise us.

    They should be a bit smug though when they look at their wealthier siblings and our cousins who had teenage pregnancies, divorces etc. I remember my gran’s funeral and my cousin’s wore jeans and I wore a suit (and they know how much I hate dressing up), my mum said it made her proud. Little things, it’s not much but we turned out alright.

    I was going to put this story in the post but it annoyed me too much… I saw a news report, a woman complaining about immigrants “My daughter won’t even get a house as they take them all” Her daughter was 11, so the mother had already mapped out her future on benefits and free housing. Imagine not giving your children any aspirations or basic encouragement, you know, the parenting thing.

    My angst phase was short lived, no photo evidence, I refused anyone taking pictures of me. I probably thought I was a vampire. I had the look but not the temperament, Cynical yes, but not self pitying. (I hope the Camden Town goths don’t read this, they’ll be chasing me down the street tonight – if they can run in their clumpy boots)

    Reply
  3. Little things, it’s not much but we turned out alright. I think the little things are the biggest. They all add up over time. May not see the end result for awhile, but eventually we realize how important our actions are as parents when it comes to directly or indirectly influencing our kids. A daunting job with big rewards (okay, that’s the end of my little spiel)

    If that didn’t make sense I apologize, I am drugged up on Dayquil at the moment.

    And cynical as a teen? isn’t that in the job description?

    Reply
    • Makes perfect sense!

      Some parents fail on this job, and then they still expect something for Mothers/Fathers day. 😉

      Reply
  4. funny, it seems like you may have missed a great opportunity staying on and working with the kids…
    And being very very amused.

    Reply
    • I would have liked the Summer’s off. My sister and also a friend is a teacher and it’s not true when they tell you they are working all Summer on next years lesson plans, they’re having a blast for 6 weeks

      Reply
  5. As the old saying goes “Those who can’t…….teach”. That noble profession’s loss. Loved it!

    Reply
  6. princessvonvoodoo

     /  February 11, 2012

    Too funny! I toilet trained my boys by putting Cheerios in the toilet bowl…there aim is amazing now…

    Reply
    • See that’s great parenting, that’s a skill that will keep them in good stead for the rest of their lives. It will lesson any marital tensions for sure.

      Reply
  7. “imagine that a kid had no teddy bears, that many cannot use the toilet, some may never have read a book, some are fed on McDonald’s”

    Haha. Could be reference to a 3 year old or a 15 year old. My secret to keeping the sanity with the kids is to essentially be a kid myself. Without the pants soaking obviously although there was that one bucks party…

    Reply
    • Too true! I know of a 32 year old man who still wets the bed (he doesn’t read this blog so their reputation remains intact) and it’s usually when he’ sdrunk so it’s fairly often

      Reply

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