Mandy tells me that she has 4 children aged 16 - 28, that she is not married but has been with her partner for 24 years and that she has worked at the school for the past 8 years. Now, if I was a woman, I'd have probably known all of this within the first five minutes of us meeting. But I'm not, I'm a man - a socially awkward one at that - and so I've been working at the school for 18 months without knowing any of this - until now.
It was about a week ago - wondering who to ask to be on this blog - that I overheard Mandy telling some of the other TA's a hilarious story about two of her children and instantly thought 'that has to go on the blog'. It took me a couple of days to ask her. I'm not completely sure why - she is one of the most friendly, approachable people you'll meet - but I'm a little awkward and so I felt a little nervous. There was absolutely no need, she was more than happy to share: 'yeah if it will help you out'. Well Mandy yes it definitely does help me out, but more importantly, I thought that you had a story that was just begging to be shared and so here it is.
By the time the kids were in bed it had already been a long day. But there was no time for the tv and a glass of wine. Instead, a couple of years too many since it had last been done, we'd finally gotten around to buying the paint and borrowing my sisters wallpaper steamer. So, white high gloss looking on, we took it in turns. One with the Black and Decker steamer in hand, the other with the scraper. Hours later, when the walls were eventually in their birthday suits, as much as we willed it the job was not over. It was only time to pick up the paintbrushes, door frames, skirting boards and radiators all needed a face lift.
3am: Paint brushes down, the two of us looked on through half closed eyes, pride on our faces, tiredness washing over our limbs. Stripping and painting down it was time for sleep. The wallpapering could wait till the morning. Now, I wasn't the type of mother to just lie in of a morning. Not even on a weekend. You would always find me up with the children. Breakfast and cartoons. Get them dressed and ready. Do something with them, keep them entertained. But this morning was slightly different. Tired out from the nights exploits, I slept until I woke, as normal, only I woke a little later than usual.
The timid cries of my youngest disturbed me from a dream I instantly forgot. As my eyelids slowly peeled back I found myself collapsed on top of the bed. Still half in, half out of my clothes, I woke to the realisation that we might not have put the decorating materials away properly before bed and to the sight of my life. Unable to speak yet I nudged the snoring lump next to me, rubbed at my eyes, pinched the back of my hand and being sure I was definitely seeing what I thought I was seeing, I buried my head in the duvet trying my best not to laugh. There she stood in front of us, our three year old little girl, little slits for eyes going up and down, the whole of her face painted thick with high gloss emulsion.
Downstairs the story further unravelled. In the middle of the living room we found our five year old son, paint brush in hand. Around him, everything had been painted on. Everything! Carpet, settee, records, telly all covered in white high gloss paint. In fact, the only thing there wasn't any paint on, was my 5 year old son!
Fully grown my son and daughter are still close, but there are no arguments as
(Re-told by Anthony Hett)