It’s Wednesday teatime and I am feeling a bit glum. My dark mood is exacerbated by the fact that I’m trying to remove a stubborn pan stain with a worn-out scouring pad.
My wife barrels into the kitchen. Full of bloody energy.
“Hi, what’s up with you?” she asks and enthusiastically rips open the mail.
“Why can’t something exciting ever happen? Where’s the drama?”
“Have you been watching Hollyoaks again?”
“I just need something to get the juices flowing,” I say.
“You’re in luck. It‘s parents’ evening tonight.”
“How is that exciting?”
“It’s not, but why don’t we make it exciting. Most of the teachers are new. Let’s pretend to be more interesting than we actually are. Have a think. How could you be more dynamic?”
“I could wear that tight T-shirt I bought with all the zips on it.”
“What about you?” I ask.
“When I said ‘we’ – I really meant ‘you’.
The wager was set. To win, we had to convince primary school teachers that we were full of zest. The loser was the one who came across as nature intended. A dirty pan and a frazzled scouring pad awaited the runner-up.
Table one. English teacher.
“Hello. I am Mr Mitchell and I’d just like to…”
“Do you like my top?” I ask, peeling off my coat. My wife glares at me, as do a few other parents.
“That’s…erm,” he stammers, “that’s a lot of zips.”
“Yes, yes it is. Too many, if I’m being honest. They really irritate me when I’m trying to write my award-winning blog.”
“Oh, really,” he says. “What sort of blog is it?”
“I’m a Dad Blogger.”
“What’s that?” he asks.
“Ha. Exactly!” shrieks my wife, smugly.
Table two. Maths.
“Hi. I’m Mr Fletcher. But please call me…he stops mid-sentence because he can hear many things being unzipped.
After losing the first two rounds, my wife is grumpy. We are sitting in the queue for our next appointment in an angry silence, much like the other parents.
I find my daughter’s school draw and leaf through her work. My daughter is 6 years old, and so far her school years have been something of a challenge. The first few years of her knuckling down to work were tough. We own a cafe next to the primary school and when the kitchen window was open you could hear her in the playground crying for her mummy. Sometimes it would last all day – it was heartbreaking.
The more I look through her exercise books, the more emotional I become. The teacher’s comments were getting better. More red ticks. More ‘Good work Gracie’ comments. I pull out one of her drawings. It’s a bright picture of a sunflower with a warm, smiley face. Tears begin to well up. It’s our daughter who is being more dynamic – not us.
So, I think you can learn something at parents’ evening. Wearing the tight European-raver top has shown me what it’s like to try and stand out from the crowd, but my daughter has shown me how much courage it takes to just try and fit in.