So I showed up, on time, at 8:30. Waiting for me in the car park was the teacher I was assigned to. Greeting me as she dragged her laptop bag and rucksack full of lesson plans and registers and the like out of the back of her car, she introduced herself as Ms. Fisher. Once she was fully upright I saw she was a pretty woman, in a soft kind of way. Brown hair, a warm smile, and a summer dress which would unfortunately come back to haunt her when the rain started up in the afternoon. She was one of those women who seemed motherly, even when they don't have kids; caring, sweet and infectiously enthusiastic. I figured, in retrospect, I should have worn something more feminine than my customary black jeans, t-shirt and hoodie. Giving her a hand with her bags, she led me into the Year 2 classroom. A large, open space with tables and chairs around most of the room and a carpeted corner for the kids to sit on as a whole class. Ms. Fisher has a utilitarian wooden desk in the corner, the wall around it dotted with drawings. We spent fifteen minutes talking about the day ahead, getting what we'd get done sorted out.
At about 8:50, kids started gathering. Some played in the playground, some lingered on the edges of the field with their parents. After ten minutes, they trickled in and sat in their places. I guess I was expecting them to be more boisterous, because they were surprisingly well-behaved. They were the sweetest little things you've ever seen; playful, talkative, every one of them a character in their own right. The register was taken, and I made my introduction. The kids treated me with curiosity and warmth; one said that "It's like Ms. Fisher's the mummy, and you're the big sister." I love kids <3. They got to work copying out sentences from a sheet of paper. There were about five of them, yet it took concentration from almost every one of them. After an hour and a half, they were let out on break. Wanting to get to know them, I went to go play with them. I ended up playing football with the boys in the group, and while I have basically no athletic talent, compared to seven year olds I'm damn near competent. My side won, though, depressingly, not so much through my efforts.
After break, the children were set a task; to make a small presentation to the class about their parents. They got to work, with crayons and felt tips to draw pictures of their parents and with me helping them decide what to write. After lunch, the presentations began. Most of them were fairly routine - parents were everything from doctors to shop managers to scientists. However, one stood out. One boy, whose name I'm not sure I can put on here but who, for the sake of reference, I'll call Joey, got up and talked about his mother. When he got to his dad, however, his eyes lit up. "My daddy is the biggest, strongest man in the world. Mummy says he went away but he never really goes. Sometimes he stands in my room, watching me while I sleep. Sometimes he stands outside the window. My daddy doesn't say anything, but I know he loves me." He showed a picture of his father; a tall, thin bald man in a business suit, with long arms and legs, as tall as the tree next to him. Despite how he drew pictures of himself and his mother, he apparently didn't get round to drawing a face for his father. I felt uncomfortable. Couldn't put my finger on why. Ms. Fisher hurredly stepped in; "That was lovely, Joey. Now, Melodie, your turn." And the show went on.
After class, once the kids were gone, Ms. Fisher confided in me the troubling thing about this. Joey never knew his father. He's been talking about this "father" for a few weeks now. His mother doesn't know what to do. His classmates are beginning to ask questions. Teachers have been put on alert to keep an eye out for a man fitting this description. And no-one knows where he got this character from. Ms. Fisher sighs. "At this rate, we're going to have to send him to a therapist. He's...he's not well. I'm so worried about him. He's a good kid."
She thanked me for my work today and I left. Weird first day, huh? Something about this whole incident made me really uneasy. My head aches faintly.