The loudest clapper in school

School and education


We limped to the end of the first full week of school of 2018. Daughter one was off for two days with a bad case of the norovirus. Only son spent much of every morning announcing his hatred of school; we were late for primary school three out of the five days; daughter three took eons to get out of bed and daughter two fell asleep on every journey home from school and made bleak comments like “this is my life for ever. We just repeat the same thing endlessly”. On the plus side only son made an early Sunday morning announcement: “You are going to be very proud of me.” Drum roll. “I am the loudest clapper in my school.” Hurray! He then gave a demonstration.

I am on a whatsapp group with the parents in his class. It provides all sorts of useful information about road closures and the like. On Thursday there was a discussion about homework, particularly maths. Everyone apparently has different maths homework so some children are on five times tables and others are on threes and fours. I noticed a new message on Friday morning. “Only son is on 7’s, 8’s and 14’s”, it said with my name on it. Hmm. Only son had got hold of my phone and he’d got wise to my whatsapp messages because I’ve been using him as my secretary, getting him to check and reply to some while on the school run. I had to send another message to explain the situation. Only son is ambitious in his maths homework. “Let’s do the seven times tables,” I say. Not only does he do the sevens up to around 300, but he adds in the 14s for fun. I then have to check it all. He has watched Matilda one too many times.

At the weekend he was keen to show us his latest dance moves [to the tunes of Geometry Dash]. We had just sat down to watch a film. I gave what I thought was an enthusiastic response [though maybe not a very loud clap compared to his own clapping genius] to the first dance. I did mention that I was keen to watch a bit of the film – it was in a tense part. Only son took umbrage. He got a piece of paper and jotted down some notes. “Three reasons why seven year olds’ lives are really hard”, it began. There were then three reasons listed. The first was that parents are always stroppy. You what? I haven’t been stroppy at all despite huge provocation from the menopause which I am blaming for the fact that I am permanently knackered. His second point was about his siblings. “They wind you up”, it stated. This is undeniably true. The third was perhaps the most serious charge: “When you try to show your family talent they are watching a stupid film.”

I fear we are falling short of his high expectations on a daily basis. Perhaps it is a good life lesson.

*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of

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