It has been a good week. I have been very touched by my form – the little bunch of tearaways in school for whom I have responsibility as form tutor – who had been misbehaving recently, so I came down hard on them and felt guilty about it for most of the last fortnight. I was not smiling at them any more and they were looking worried and distressed. The bad behaving minority – now on report – suddenly starting being very good. The form as a whole began to get great reports from teachers. By the middle of the week it was looking like a good news story, and then it was my birthday on Thursday and they all sang “Happy Birthday, Mr Gareth, at form time…” How can you carry on being hard on twelve year olds when they smile and sing to you?
The first two donkeys arrived in the donkey meadow on my birthday: two vintage hand-tinted 1928 Winnie the Pooh prints of Eyore the donkey and Pooh Bear. What a lovely present! They came just in time for my birthday, from Alys my daughter, who seems to be enthusing over the donkey plans.
Later in the day the Mule arrived. I had not been expecting a Mule and it was an amusing moment when the office in school told me that a package had been delivered. “Ah, it must be my donkey books,” I said. “Is the package from Amazon?”
“Yes,” they told me, “but it says ‘Mule’ on the box and it is very big…”
The ‘Mule’ turned out to be the velocipede trailer I had ordered through Amazon.com and not donkey books as expected. I took the box into my classroom. The children read ‘Mule’ on the box. One boy asked, “Is that your donkey, Mr Gareth?”
The kids have me completely sussed now. A stickler for spellings, grammatical structures, proper school uniform and a complete nutcase obsessed with donkeys. Prolly about right. But as long as they keep on getting good reports, who cares what they think?