Do teachers jump puddles?

I just walked across the road to look, the puddle is no longer there, just a neatly cut grass verge. This evening is the puddle-jumping anniversary. There used to be a puddle straight across the road that passes our house, cars and tractors would swing wide to turn into or out of the lane that ran beside our garden and, as they did so, would cut into the verge opposite the house. The big agricultural tyres would cut deep into the soil, leaving a hard packed rut. When heavy rain came, as it always did, there would be a deep puddle, the width of a tractor tyre and stretching for two or three yards.

It was a puddle sufficiently deep to command the interest of small boys. Jumping from one side of the puddle to the other on that eve of the first Monday in September, I remember  pausing and staring into nothingness, feeling sick in the pit of my stomach. The school summer holidays, that had promised to last forever, were over; how could six weeks pass so quickly? If just a couple of days could be recovered, just enough time to put a distance between myself and the looming shadow of the classroom.

The puddle could not work its usual magic. No matter how many times I jumped it, there was no changing the fact that the new school year began in the morning; even if it had still been only Sunday afternoon, it would have been different. Nothing could pull me from the slough of despond in which I stood, facing the bleakness of returning to school. There would be desperate childish hopes that perhaps the school would burn down, or that a mysterious illness would force its closure; they never materialised.

Sometimes I imagined what a paradise life must have been before reaching school age; the problem was that there were not many memories from those days, and, not having been to school, I did not realize I was living in paradise.

Adults used to say that schooldays should be enjoyed, that they were the happiest days of their lives, but when questioned they could rarely remember what it was that made the days so happy; chiefly, it seemed that being at school meant they had not reached the age of having to work.

The change this week is that tomorrow I begin the year as a prospective teacher rather than a timid pupil. I must ask colleagues if teachers have an activity comparable to jumping puddles.

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4 Responses to Do teachers jump puddles?

  1. The Blocked Dwarf says:

    “Adults used to say that schooldays should be enjoyed, that they were the happiest days of their lives”

    They used to wheel out some old fogey, some former Wing Commander or once dashing Lieutenant for the assembly once a term to recount how they debagged Jones Minor or some jolly jape before going off to fight the Hun. They always said school days were the happiest of their lives. They LIED and I knew they were lying as I sat there on that cold stone floor in the sports hall, my legs thankfully going to sleep because then at least I couldn’t feel the bruises from all the ‘dead legs’ and kicks to the groin but knowing the minute we got up and filed out of the hall my tormentors would start on me again. Always swore that no matter how rich, how famous i became or how many medals they pinned to me, I would never stand infront of a school class and utter such bollocks.

    I still, 35 years later, awake in a cold sweat some nights about what I suffered and suffered for years until one day the worm didn’t just turn but went full blown psycho who hospitalized 3 of his tormentors. The violence came upon me, and i came too, fractured the skull of one with an oak desk, parboiled the head of another, that kind of jolly jape type thing, what. Spiffing fun.

  2. Ian says:

    The toleration of a culture of abuse always seemed odd. I’m not sure whether it was just accepted unthinkingly, or whether there was an underlying agenda of preserving a particular social order.

    • The Blocked Dwarf says:

      Personally I would just go with ‘some kids are evil little shits’! One can *over *analyse.
      I’m sure the boys who worked me over professionally on one occasion-with hockey sticks -were simply misunderstood and their actions a cry for help.
      Strangely enough I encountered one of them years later one evening outside a pub. Was actually quite gratifying to see the fear loom in his eyes as recognition came upon him. As he realised the fat kid he’d beaten up at school was now the local ‘path who would quite cheerfully emasculate him with a broken bottle of Wife Beater (actually t’would have been Barley Wine or IPA back then).

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