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Posts Tagged ‘school assembly’

Everybody has Bad Trouser Days. But if the truth be told, I probably have more than the average person (see “Ye Of Little Fashion” for proof).

In my haste to get to school on time the other day, I chose a pair of trousers that effectively turned my “apron” of extra fat into one of those play tents that had been folded and stuffed in its accompanying bag by someone who didn’t have a Higher Degree in Play Tent Folding: it felt like it was going to pop out with great force at any give moment and (quite possibly) wind an innocent bystander in the process.

Because I’d driven the kids to school, I didn’t realise the full extent of my potential wardrobe malfunction until I lost my car keys. Yes, it takes a very special kind of person to lose her car keys in between turning off the ignition and getting the kids out of the car. It also takes a special pair of trousers on a special kind of person to showcase generous amounts of arse-crack to her own children and assorted passersby as she scrambles about on all fours trying to find said keys.

Since the bell was about to go, I had to leave the car unlocked and get the older two kids to their classrooms. I walked, as if in a daze (stopping to readjust my trousers every five steps) and further built on my reputation at the school by telling everyone I met how I’d just lost my keys. At least two people asked me if I’d left them in the ignition with the engine still running, leaving me to conclude that my reputation was probably worse than I had ever thought.

Of course when I returned to the car for one more look, I finally found the keys wedged firmly between two seats and could finally stop worrying they’d actually fallen down my arse-crack.

Anyway, I had to then rush Tiddles McGee to kindergarten and settle him in (he’s currently of the opinion that kindergarten has jumped the shark), and then rush back to the school to see Mr Justice receive his “Pupil Of The Week” award. Mr Justice had specifically requested my presence at the assembly and since most of the time he’s on the verge of taking a temporary restraining order out on me in public spaces, I was keen to be there.

I burst into the back of the school hall just in time to see a steady stream of children being rewarded for achieving their “Personal Best” (see my post “A Day Of Personal Bests” to read about the drinking game this turn of phrase inspired) and thought “Phew!”. My relief was only short-lived, however, as two minutes later the assembly was finished without any sign of Mr Justice or his Personal Best Certificate.

I made a bee-line to fellow-parent FatherOfCrankyPants, who confirmed the awards were given in two groups and Mr Justice had been in the first.

“Argggghhhh! I missed it!” I moaned. “Mr Justice had really wanted me to come today. Should I lie and tell him I saw him?”

“Yes, lie.” FatherOfCrankyPants urged. “LIE!”

It seemed the obvious thing to do, but then I thought of my recent post “Infrequent Liar Points” and promptly changed my mind. It was the kind of small white lie that seemed harmless at the time but would no doubt ultimately end with me standing semi-naked in front of a crowd of booing strangers.

I decided the most responsible thing to do was to loiter by the front door of the assembly hall and wave cheerily as Mr Justice left with his class. That way he’d  think that I’d been standing there all along without me actually having to lie about it. Genius.

But after waving cheerily at at least seven classes traipsing past, I looked back into the empty hall and realised Mr Justice’s class must have exited through a different door.

Unsure of what to do next, I ended up loitering outside his classroom. I was about to give up and go home when one of his classmates returned from the toilets and opened the classroom door. Catching Mr Justice’s eye through the temporarily open door, I began waving manically and giving him the double thumbs up.

Instead of smiling and waving back in an “It’s good to see you’ve got my back, Mum!” manner, Mr Justice looked at me as if to say “What the fuck are you doing here, you Keyless Arse-Parading Clown“.

Luckily, it was only when the classroom door was actually shut that my “apron” chose its moment to pop out over the top of my trousers. B’DOINGGGG! Just like that. But nobody saw it and no children were hurt. It was a small comfort for somebody who wasn’t about to win any Mother of the Year awards any time soon, but I hoicked up my trousers and walked back to my car with my car keys firmly in my hand and my head held high.

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Parents are meant to be embarrassing. Everybody knows that. Except that I was secretly planning on *not* being an embarrassment to my children. I was going to be The Exception, always remaining cool and popular, a bit like Rodney Dangerfield in”Back To School”, except, well, actually cool.  

But two recent events have proved me wrong.

First, when I turned up to take part in the Literacy & Numeracy Week Open Day activities in Mr Justice’s class, he did not want to know me. Not even when I poked him repeatedly. Go figure. 

Second, I saw him physically balk when I told him I was going to school assembly to see him get his Pupil of the Week Award. The grand irony was that he was getting it for “excellent sharing skills during maths games in Numeracy & Literacy Week” and, since he didn’t bring any actual games to play, I assumed he was being rewarded for sharing his mother with the class. I mean, all the other parents in attendance sat and played Monopoly with their offspring and I ended up playing endless rounds of Uno and Connect 4 with children not of my loins because my own son wouldn’t even look at me. So it was “sharing” in the same sense that one might “share” something they do not want. Like a chocolate biscuit that you’ve already licked all the chocolate off.  

Anyway, I decided to try and make light of Mr Justice’s obvious embarrassment about the school assembly. “Can I clap loudly and whoop when they call your name?” I said jokingly. 

He looked even more horrified. 

So I said “It’s okay. I won’t do that. I know that’s against Principle Brett’s rules. I also know not to take my trousers off and run around the hall shouting ‘Boobies!'”.

Yes, I really said that to my seven year old son. No wonder he’s so embarrassed of me. Still, I got a smile out of him – until, of course, Tiddles McGee took my lead and started shouting “Boobies! Boobies!” at the top of his lungs. 

“Uh, could you please make sure McGee doesn’t shout that during assembly?” Mr Justice pleaded with me, panicking somewhat.

“Of course, of course!” I said, swiftly removing Tiddles McGee from the room. 

Cut to: Assembly. As Mr Justice’s class walked into the hall, half of the kids jumped and down, shouting “Hi [NDM]!” when they saw me. They love me, they really love me – if only because I buy their love with cupcakes. But Mr Justice? He played it cool, boy. Real cool. 

Even when he got up to accept his award, he only shot me a couple of fleeting glances before looking determinedly away. On the hall’s stage, he looked like such a Big Boy, but still with the shadow of his baby-self playing across his face, as he frowned, a little uncertain and nervous. 

And as I sat at the back of the hall, smiling and waving at my unseeing child, I felt so very proud and ever-so-slightly hurt. 

And I thought to myself:  this is necessary for him, this slow separation from his mother as he moves from babyhood to adulthood. I thought: at least at home he still loves me and throws his arms around my neck, squeezes me tight and covers my face with kisses.

I thought: more than ever before, every hug is precious.

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At a recent assembly at Mr Justice’s school, I devised a new drinking game in my mind. Every time someone is given an award for achieving their “Personal Best”, you have to take a nip from your hip flask. And don’t tell me you don’t carry a hip flask to school functions because, honestly, if you don’t, you really really should. But before you go labeling me an Irresponsible Parent, let me just say – for the record – that I didn’t say anything about alcohol being in the flask. No, not me. That was your assumption. The contents of my hip flask is strictly between me, my flask and my legal team, thank you very much.  

ANYWAY, according to the rules of the game I dreamt up for my not-necessarily-alcohol drinking game, Mr Justice’s award for “doing his personal best in all activities” would surely give me license to down the whole flask. Surely. 

So yes, this was the second assembly I’d ever attended and, since it had my “An Assembly to Remember” experience as its one and only precedent, it was never going to quite live up to expectations. There were a few small highlights (or lowlights – depending on your inclinations):

  • The Pixie sat and drew pictures in my notebook, but every time the principal stopped talking, all that could be heard throughout the hall was her usual singsong chatter, which goes a little like this: “Shibby-shibby-shibby. Shibby-shibby-shibby.“.
  • Mr McGee seemed perpetually on the verge of spraying his drink bottle champagne-style all over the sixth graders sitting at our feet. And by the looks of how much Product they had in their hair, that was going to cause a Situation.
  • I horrified everyone (including myself) when I actually sang full-voice during the National Anthem – obviously that’s considered to be an Assembly No-No and positively Un-Australian from the number of people who turned to look my way. Next time I’ll just mumble it unenthusiastically with the rest of them. 

Still, despite these minor incidents, it was all a bit dull and not really that blog-worthy. Although one could argue that, since it was the first assembly I’d ever sat through where someone didn’t take their shirt off, it was a Personal Best in terms of my ability to endure such events. And the fact that we got out of there and made my doctor’s appointment on time would also mean another Personal Best, this time in the area of Punctuality and Back-to-Back Scheduling.

And then, during my doctor’s appointment, I managed to successfully avert another Situation by distracting a small person who was twitching the curtain and wanting to see what Mummy was doing behind it – and, if you really need to know, Mummy was having a pap smear. So yes, another Personal Best – in the area of Not Scarring Your Child For Life. 

And I even managed to negotiate my way out of the McDonalds Proximity Clause (according to my children, if you are parked less than 50m from a McDonalds, you have to buy something there – it’s “The Law”) and drove home junk-food free but with yet one more Personal Best under my belt. 

And we made it all the way to 11:34am without turning on the television. Another Personal Best – this time for a Monday morning where I’d had to sit through Assembly without the assistance of alcohol, have an invasive screening procedure conducted on me with small children in the room and side-step contractual obligations to fill my children’s stomaches with pig fat. 

I do believe I’m getting the hang of this Personal Best thing. It doesn’t matter what I do, what gross act I commit, what stunning example of mediocrity I give, I can “spin” it so that it’s a Personal Best! Which surely must make “Personal Best” the “It’s All Good” of the world of achievement. 

And, as we all should know by now, it’s not ALL good. Not Ever.

Fact.

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The whole “Pupil of the Week” thing at primary schools is a little bit contentious: while some teachers award them only when they feel it has truly been earned, others dole them out every single week to a rotating roster of students for things like “For doing your personal best”, “For being next in line to receive Pupil of the Week” and probably even “Because it’s all good” (Is it? Is it??). 

However, I’m extremely proud to announce that Mr Justice’s recent award was for his “extreme enthusiasm and creativity when story-writing”. I got a big kick out of the word “extreme” because I imagined his teacher and fellow students all cowering in the corner, a bit fearful that Mr Justice’s creative enthusiasm might blow any minute, much like his mother’s cold sore. Or even, as one of my readers (and facebook friends) Nellie remarked, he might have been “writing stories while balancing a chain saw on his nose while walking on a wire.” A remark I chose not to share with Mr Justice just in case he got himself any wild ideas.

Anyway, Mr Justice’s award meant I had to go to assembly for the first time this year. Since The Pixie’s one and only kindergarten session is on the same morning, that time slot represents the only two and a half hours in a week where I regularly just have one child at home with me. Those mornings, it feels like I’ve died and gone to heaven, except that I’m A) still in dire need of a apronectomy and B) still in charge of one child. But what the hey, at least it’s not three (and I still have somewhere nifty to balance my champagne glass when watching TV). So, call me selfish, but I’m not going to blow even ten minutes of that precious precious time hanging out at the school, much like a dog returning to its own vomit, unless I absolutely have to. So because Mr Justice was getting his award, I duly lugged Tiddles to the school gymnasium with the intention of hotfooting it to the cafe for some urgent recaffeination at the earliest opportunity – my own little reward for enduring Mr J’s award. 

And so my heart sank just a little when the first thing the Principal told us was that this was to be a very special assembly. It turns out some of the senior school boys had been taking part in an African drumming workshop and were going to put on a “special show” for us. And by “special”, I immediately assumed that he just meant “long”. It was like someone had been dangling a latte on a string in front of me and then suddenly yoiked it away – I think I might have even teared up a little. 

However, the first bit of drumming was great and I soon perked up. The teacher – a handsome man from the Horn of Africa whom I shall call S – had obviously worked long and hard with these boys, who were drumming with great (extreme?) enthusiasm. Then everyone on the stage swapped instruments and they appeared to do the same song again. And then they swapped instruments a third time and I felt one of my caffeine-withdrawal headaches coming on until suddenly… S got up to dance. It was like some of Mr Justice’s finest and most manic moves all rolled into one routine – including a cheeky waggle of his bottom at the crowd. S was working that crowd like it was Live 8: he grabbed hold of the microphone, he got the kids, parents and teachers all up on their feet to dance and – just when we thought it couldn’t get any more exciting – he took off his shirt. 

Oh yes. Shirt. Off.  

The kids went wild but their enthusiasm came nowhere near that of the (predominantly female) staff and the mothers in the room, whose suddenly beaming faces betrayed them all, every single one. Later on, after school, Mr Justice said he really liked it when S took his shirt off because he thought he was going to take his undies off too. “It wasn’t that kind of ‘special show’,” I replied, with just a hint of regret in my voice. 

After the drumming spectacular finished, the principal thanked S and the boys and went back to reading out notices, stopping from time to time to say what a memorable assembly it had been. I looked around the room and by the flushed looks on the faces of the women in the room, I doubted they could even remember their own names at that moment, let alone register that their own child’s name had just been called to take their Pupil of the Week Award. But hell, if every assembly is like that, here’s hoping Mr Justice’s next Student of the Week Award ain’t too far away, rewarding of mediocrity and all that.

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