I am sitting on a pathetically small plastic chair, my knees up by my shoulders, my ankles crossed in an attempt not to flash my knickers at a room of four and five year olds. My unborn child is giving me a thumping for its cramped living conditions, my eldest is tracing patterns on my thigh with her texta covered finger. Little friends bump and crawl over each other, each trying to sit closest to me. If they get much closer Baby Unborn will have some serious competition.
Today I am Kindy Mum.
Parent helper at the Blonde Bombshell's kindy class is a rite of passage that all parents should attempt at least once. Once is probably enough for many parents.
There are twenty small children, and three adults. I don't much like those odds. It is the start of fourth term and the kids are feral. They are excited at being back at Kindy and tired from their first year at 'school'.
Because her mum is helping today means it is the Bombshell's 'special day'. This brings all sorts of privileges such as being able to ring the bell. It's an important job and you can see the pride in her eyes as she stands at the front of the class, thrusting the bells up and down.
I have chosen my day well. Two children are having birthdays which means two lots of cupcakes at morning tea. It also means we sing Happy Birthday four times over the course of the morning. Five if you count the fact that the kids are singing like a bunch of zombies and the teacher is not satisfied and makes them do it again. The teacher cannot manage the cigarette lighter. We can't sing without lit candles. I jump up and show her how it's done. 'Are you a smoker?' she asks, a piercing look in her eye.
It's story time and the children are taught some new words. Gumption. Basking. Reside. Comparison.
May I remind you they are four years old.
Time to Jump Our Jiggles out and stomp out our sillies. Twenty hopped up hurricanes are throwing themselves around the mat with gusto. They have no self-consciousness (or self-control). It's liberating and I join in the jiggling. The music stops but I keep jiggling. Time to go on a diet perhaps. Back in my chair of torture. Can't the WA Education System spring for a third adult-sized chair?
It's craft time and I am in charge of five children cutting out butterflies and using hole punches to decorate their wings. It's going smoothly until one boy says he doesn't want to make a butterfly. He wants to make a bat. Fine, I say. Then of course everyone wants to make bats. They discover what happens when you remove the bottom of the hole punch. Suddenly I feel like I am at a 1970s wedding, covered in brightly coloured confetti.
Still, my table is cleaner than the one next door. Those kids are playing with play-dough. I don't even let the word be spoken in my house, let alone the substance, yet here they are at Kindy grinding it into their hair, throwing it at each other, treading it into their shoes. I see a couple of kids sneak a taste. I pretend not to notice.
Time for outdoor play and everyone rushes for their hats. Some kids are on the swings, others in the sandpit. Boys are at the dolls house and girls are into the dress-ups. Two girls approach me to have their white dresses done up. 'Are you brides?' I ask. 'No,' they say as though I am stupid. 'We're his daughters,' they say pointing at a little boy. 'C'mon daughters,' he says. And the three run off to play on the pirate ship. Whatever.
I chat with the teacher about the Bombshell. She's the youngest in the class but seems to hold her own. It would appear she has an entirely different personality here at school. She sits still, never calls out, doesn't push her opinions forward, and is generally very well behaved. I roll my eyes, picturing the opinionated, pushy, jumping-beans-in-her-knickers, difficult to please girl she can be at home.
Two girls run up to us. They have made us a cake. It is a saucepan brimming with sand, decorated with nuts and dead flowers. A snail shell is the centrepiece. Encouraged by our oohing and ahhing, they rush off to make a bigger one.
We've lost a child. Nope, hang on, they're just at the bottom of that pile of children. The boys are separated and the girls told not to encourage them. Fat chance. At this tender age, the girls are already manipulating the boys with their wily charms.
The Bombshell is told to ring the bell again. She marches around the playground ringing it in people's ears, just in case they don't know it's time to go inside. I can't bear the thought of scrunching myself back into furniture fit for a dollshouse so I make my goodbyes. The class are made to sit in their neat lines on the mat and warble 'thaaaaaank yoooooooo Shaaaaaaannooooooon'.
Several small children rush up to give me goodbye cuddles, luckily the Bombshell is amongst them.
I make my way home, a smile on my face. The Bombshell got it wrong. It was my my special day.