Chocolate is a rare commodity in our household, but it's currently up for grabs. A bar is on offer for each of my four-year-old twins when they've learnt the 45 magnetic words – the ones they're meant to recognise by the end of Reception as part of the National Literacy Strategy – stuck on the door of the fridge.
Pushy, yes, and the bribe is probably worthy of criticism. It's working, though. Should their teeth fall out from the Dairy Milk, it will have been worth every rotting penny. Such is the lure of the choc challenge that whenever they're in the kitchen they can't help themselves, peeling "dog" and "cat" off the freezer to check what it says.
The amount of questions they ask since starting school has quadrupled. This constant barrage would be less troubling if I could be certain of the answers.
"Do we have ribs to protect the heart?" Oliver asks as we walk to the classroom.
Despite no formal lessons, they're obviously learning something.
"Yes," I say, "and to protect other organs, too."
"Like our lungs which we need to breathe? And what's an organ?" he continues.
My son is clearly destined to be a doctor. How the hell do I define organ? I'm saved (of sorts) by Claire.
"Mummy," she asks, "what colour is the brain?"
The brain is considered "grey matter", but they confuse me.
"I think it's brown," says Oliver. "It was brown on the whiteboard."
"No, it was yellowy pink," Claire contradicts. They look to me for clarity and I'm stumped. I make a mental note to google "body organs" and "brain" and am saved, literally, by the bell.
"See you later," I kiss them goodbye. In fact, I will see them earlier rather than later because after much arm-twisting I agreed to be a "parent reader", which means going in for the last half hour to read stories to the class.
The twins picked a selection of their favourite books the night before and I don't give the matter another thought until I'm sitting there, with 30 pairs of eyes all focused on me.
"Sit nicely on your bottoms," commands teacher Miss Perry.
I can't help but react to the order, shuffling my rump on the uncomfortably low chair provided. The twins, sitting beside me, are close to exploding with pride at the presence of their mummy.
I don't want to let them down, but memories of freezing on stage age 10, and failing to deliver my only two lines, come back to haunt me. Deep breath, clear throat, open first title New Lunchboxes.
I start to read about a fictitious mother needing to buy new lunchboxes.
My delivery is calm and controlled and 30 arms immediately rise in the air as the children tell me what lunchbox designs they have: "red," "pink", "Spiderman", "Barbie"...
Miss Perry claps her hands, the children fall silent, and I continue. I tell them about one of the characters being allergic to nuts.
"I can't eat dairy," says a classmate of the twins. "I can't eat gluten," cries another. "And I can't eat too much," chips in a third.
We're stuck on page two, book one of four, 10 minutes in and I'm desperate to continue when Claire jumps up. "AND MY MUMMY IS ALLERGIC TO MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE!" she shrieks.
I'm feeling woefully inadequate as a parent reader when on the way home Oliver asks if I know that there are 26 bones in the foot and 27 in the hand.
Despite scoring well in biology GCSE, I have no idea if my son is right or wrong, let alone whether the brain is grey or how to define "organ". And the twins are just four years old.Reuse content