Tuesday, 27 August 2013

The Senior Cat has been invited

to attend a "Special Persons Day" (sic) at a local primary school tomorrow.
The invitation came via the little drummer boy next door. Talking to his mother about we discovered that the school can no longer have Mothers' Day, which was the common thing when I was at school. Fathers' Day is also out.
My nephews had Grandparents' Day but that has gone too.
It seems that all these people are busy working. They cannot get to a school to see what their children and grandchildren are doing.
I remember Mothers' Day at school. Even most of the working mothers managed to turn up for that. They would take half a day's leave. Their employer was expected to give it to them too. 
Everyone turned out trying to look extra neat and clean and tidy. Every classroom was tidied. The desks were straightened up. (We sat in four straight rows facing the blackboard back then.) Any jars containing water on the "Nature Table" were freshened up. The "best work" was pinned up for mothers to see and we had to put our exercise books in a pile on our desk so that our mothers could look through them.
Of course my mother was a teacher so she did not attend. She was busy attending to other mothers who came to the school for the big day.
I know that, by the time I was in the primary section, it did not bother me. My mother was all too prone to look at my books anyway.
When I was in the infants' section though it was different. I wanted my mother to be there like everyone else's mother. The very few of us who did not have our mothers there felt left out of it.  Sometimes other mothers would be kind and pretend to take an interest in what we had done but I knew it was a pretence. They were really only interested in what their child had done. I don't think their children were too pleased either. After all, their mother was there to seem them!
Fathers' Day was an even rarer event. I can only remember one. My father of course was teaching at another school by then. I knew there was no chance of him attending. Most of the fathers who turned up looked uncomfortable. They came in their suits because everyone owned one back then. They congregated at the back of the classroom and listened to us recite poetry and looked at the work on the walls but, even at that age, I sensed they were glad to get out of there. Bringing up the children was women's work!
My nephews had Grandparents' Days because, by then, so many mothers went to work. My parents dutifully went off to school and I suspect they quite enjoyed themselves. School was a familiar environment for them. My nephews were doing exceptionally well and were unlikely to embarrass anyone. From the start they were much more actively involved in showing the visiting adults what they had done.
The Senior Cat has not set foot in what is now called a "junior primary" school since my youngest nephew left his fourteen years ago. Things have changed dramatically since then. He wonders if he will even recognise a classroom as being a classroom.
I think he will. He still loves mixing with children and talking to them. They seem to like talking to him too. And, even more importantly, it means that the little drummer boy next door is going to have someone there to help him keep in time with everyone else.

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