I love the holidays. Being a primary school teacher I don’t dread the having to arrange alternative places for my children to be so that I can go to work, but even so, I love the holidays. After weeks and weeks of running my home and family around the inflexible demands of the school timetable, rushing hither and thither from home to school to school to school and back again, washing uniforms, making packed lunches, providing unexpected fancy dress…after all of that I am heartily in need of, and glad for, the break.
I love the summer holidays in particular. After all that rigidity the unstructured nature of it holds a particular appeal. Obviously, this does mean that I miss out rather on some socialising with friends, because they are usually already organised by the time I have surfaced enough to suggest an outing or a picnic, but, as was pointed out to me on Saturday, working as I do, in a job where I am sociable for a living, the pleasure of shutting the front door and retreating into quietude is not to be sniffed at.
And I love the time that we get to spend together as a family. Over the years we have come to some conclusions about our holidaying life (we like exploring, we don’t like sitting about, we like to play at doing stuff), and, thanks in part to my return to work, we have the means to take ourselves away to somewhere doing what we want to do when we want to. We have relaxed together, played together, had the occasional squabble and, after the long school terms, done a bit of reconnecting as a family unit. After all that time spent bossing children around, it’s lovely to allow them to lead the way, to set the pace.
One of the things that kept me away from the classroom for so long after Sam was born was that I couldn’t care less about other people’s children. For the first time in my life I felt that the only children I had enough love for were my own. I don’t think it would be exaggerating to say that, for the vast majority of teachers, love is a driving factor in why we do what we do. It’s a hard, consuming, not particularly well paid considering the pay packet of other professions job, and yet, the desire to improve the life chances of the next generation is what keeps us at the interactive whiteboard, day after day after day.
We might moan about standards of behaviour, or standards of inspection, or standards in the curriculum; we might get ourselves into a right proper rage over the best way to teach this that and the other. These arguments might seem divisive and polarising, but, at their heart, is, well, children. We want to make life better for them. We have in our hearts their best interests.
But you know what? I have found that love isn’t a finite thing. I have found that the more I give it away, the more I have. I have found that I do have a reserve left for other people’s children. Giving it to them, in the form of their teacher, does not take it away from my own. And sadly, sometimes what we do in the classroom isn’t enough.
Sometimes, because they are a child carer for a disabled sibling or poorly parent, because they live in poverty, either material or emotional, because they have home lives that are dominated by overcrowding, or violence, addiction or chaos, we are, and we know we are, simply scratching at the surface. Sometimes we know that what these children need is not more time in the classroom, not longer lessons or summer schools, but, just as we do, what they need is a break.
So, last Friday I had my picture taken. I attempted to get the husband to take it, but the school teacher frown was too much in evidence, so I took myself off to my local photographer (thank you Nick Jones for the professionalism), and, together with @betsysalt and @ChocoTzar (two anonymous teacher tweeters) we put our best feet forward (me in high heels, betsy barefoot, and the chocolate lady with the most marvellous pair of bright pink patent leather Doctor Martens you ever did see) for charity. We are now officially in a calendar whose aim is to raise money to send underprivileged children and their families on what we take so much for granted.
I don’t really know how to end this post, so I’ll leave you with a challenge. I found having my picture taken for a fund raising calendar a surprisingly challenging thing, so I shall let a consummate children’s writer, Andy Stanton, lay one down before you.
Well now. There is nothing quite so sad as the sight of a sobbing bear. It is sadder than a broken toy lying in the rain. It is sadder than a little white onion being bullied by a gang of tough courgettes in leather jackets. It is sadder than a grandma who no one comes to visit because her face is just too hairy. Believe me, children of all ages, a sobbing bear is not a happy sight.
The townsfolk looked on in astonishment. But did any of them go and comfort that poor beast in his hour of soggy need? No, they did not. Oh, they all said they liked bears. They all donated money to charities like ‘Bear Aid’, ‘Save The Bears’ and ‘Let’s Buy Some Bears a New Toothbrush’. But when it came to actually helping one out in real life, it was another story entirely. It was a story of townsfolk looking on in astonishment – until a heroic young girl called Polly passed by, that is. Polly was nine years old, with lovely sandy hair and nice trainers, and she simply couldn’t stand to see another person in trouble, especially if that person was a bear.
Mr Gum and the Dancing Bear.
What will you do? How will you be a heroic young Polly?
If you would like to join us in our aim please give generously here: https://www.justgiving.com/FHASweetDreamsCalendar2015/
You can lend us a hand with a donation towards the production costs or, you can buy a calendar when they’re ready. Just let me know.
All money raised goes to The Family Holiday Association.
@mathmathical came to lend her support. 🙂