And not just any job. A real job. One I had to study hard for, get a degree – a profession. The sort of job that makes your parents proud. I was a grown up, with a family, children, a house, a car, an Amazon account. And an itch. An itch that needed scratching. That uneasy, irritating feeling that things aren’t just quite right. I loved my job, in many senses. It was one of those jobs that can be immensely challenging and therefore immensely rewarding. But I’d done it for fifteen years. I was bored.
I was a teacher. It still sounds strange in the past tense.
Rewind. Here I am on my last day. My desk is littered with little gifts. Little hand-made cards from bits of paper cut into heart shapes containing little misspelt messages. ‘You are the best teacher ever. I will miss you’, signed one child. ‘will miss you more than him’, signed another. Carefully woven loombands, tiny flowers made from some coloured elastic band thingies that are all the rage. A Macdonalds toy. And a couple of big gifts actually – a bottle of Prosecco from a colleague, a beautifully gift-packed mug from the Head Teacher (with the Cornish blue and white stripes).
Last day, at last. How long have I waited for this day.
I’m feeling good. No more marking – all the books have gone home. I’ve printed off some colouring sheets of Minions and the characters from Frozen. Some of the children are tapping away on laptops. There’s a pleasant ambient buzz. Maybe I’ll treat them to a bit of my favourite film later. Then Krypton (not his real name, obviously) enters the classroom holding a wad of papers in the air he has just collected from the photocopier.
“Who wants a colouring sheet of an assassin?”
I look up. Grab the papers from him. There is an outline of a masked gunman wielding an enormous machine gun. Kypton can probably tell me the exact make and model.
I glance across at the “Today I choose” board. Words such as ‘peace’, ‘kindness’, ‘helpfulness’, ‘compassion’ ‘determination’, are mounted on tissue paper and pinned onto a drape of shiny silk. It doubles up as an RE table. There is a cross and a candle which we light every morning as we think about making right choices for the new day. And a sign printed in large letters:
Wrong is always wrong even if everybody is doing it.
Right is always right even if nobody is doing it.
And here is this 10 year old boy handing out pictures of armed assassins to colour in.
I feel tired.
I’m ready to abandon ship..
A felt tip pen flies through the air and lands on Elsa’s face. Elsa’s the one from Frozen, remember, who sings the climactic song everybody knows and joins in with.
Let it go, Let it go….
And that’s what I must do.
The bell rings. It’s playtime.
And school’s out.