Day 246

Level 2 Chi Kung.

I made a key error last night. Katie was all ready to toddle peacefully off to bed, when I foolishly said ‘Yes, because the sooner you go to sleep the sooner you’ll wake up and it will be your birthday.’ Big mistake. She then became so excited that it was another couple of hours before she finally went off. So it was pretty late by the time it was safe for me to do the tiptoeing around, hiding presents and threading golden string all around the house. Finally, I tied the end of the string to her bed and attached the note: ‘Follow the golden string, to find five special things’. I have learnt from experience to put the number of presents on the note, as last year, when I didn’t do this, one of the gifts remained undiscovered (in the linen cupboard) for several days.

Katie was keen to get back to school as it is customary for children to give out small bags of sweets on their birthday. They are only allowed to do this if they bring enough for everyone, and this has gradually become such a thing that most supermarkets sell packs of 30 tiny bags of Haribo for a couple of pounds. Katie came home very upset last week, because it was Ethan’s birthday and, though he brought in 30 packets, he gave two packets to Stella, and Katie missed out. She had therefore decided to take in only 29 packets, and not give one to Ethan, but I persuaded her to take 30, on the grounds that her teacher, Mrs Lucas, wouldn’t let her give them out unless there were enough for everyone. I also suggested that Ethan might have done it by accident and she might feel differently about giving him sweets if, for example, he apologised or even looked sad at missing out. She thought this was unlikely! When I collected her in the afternoon, I was eager to hear how her day had gone.

J: Hello my love! Did you have a good day?
K: [subdued] Yes.
J: Did you give out the sweets?
K: [in tones of outrage] As soon as I opened the bag of sweets, Ethan ran up, snatched two bags of sweets and ran off. Then there weren’t enough and BOBBY [a poor wee boy who Katie likes and feels sorry for] missed out. Then it was ok because Bobby found a packet on the floor so he got them but they turned out to have fallen out of Taylor’s pocket, so Bobby and Taylor were fighting and it was horrible. I told Mrs Lucas what had happened and she called Ethan over and he admitted taking two but said he had taken an extra one for his sibling and it was too late because he had already put them in his school bag. So Mrs Lucas told Taylor and Bobby that they had to share.

I am now thinking that young Ethan might be a bit of a brat! And Mrs bloody Lucas wouldn’t recognise a teaching opportunity if it bit her on the ankle. If this had happened at Montessori, the whole class would have had a discussion about what happened and Ethan would have been encouraged to think about the consequences of his selfishness. Whereas what have the kids learned now – ‘get in early and snatch what you can’?

Katie and I discussed what we might be able to do to fix things a bit, focusing not on Ethan, but on the victims. In the end we decided that we would take in a chocolate egg each for Bobby and Taylor when school goes back next week.

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