"I've got homework to do," says Oliver, four. His face is gleeful (give it five years) and twin sister Claire shares his enthusiasm. Back at home they have no interest in telly or toys. They just want to get stuck in. Claire pulls out Come to the Circus and starts to read – likewise Oliver with The Pond. They move to writing, copying letters in their phonics books.
So intense is their concentration that even a roast chicken dinner can't divert them. If only Mummy were so diligent. It's been almost a month and still I've failed to answer their questions – what colour is the brain and how to define the word "organ" (as in biology). As my husband and I head to our first parent-teacher consultation, one of my body parts has an irregular rhythm and another is prickling in anticipation.
Once we're sitting comfortably, or not, on kiddie stools, I hope to be told about my children's intelligence and how they are already an asset to the school. Instead, we are asked "so how do you think Claire and Oliver are getting on?"
I tell Miss Perry how happy Claire is, how she's grown in confidence and come out of her shell. As for Oliver, he too loves the school and is thrilled that at last (a dig) things seem to be progressing on the learning front. Miss Perry smiles and concurs to a degree.
First, the good news: Claire is settling in, has made friends, knows all the rules and wants to ensure none of her classmates break them (ie she's a snitch!). Oliver is extremely inquisitive – like a sponge soaking up information.
However, "Claire is a bit of a worrier," we are told. "She visits the toilet an awful lot and new situations throw her. And why on earth," she asks, "does Oliver think he can't draw?"
My parenting is being questioned. Claire being a worrier is down to my own nervous disposition and Oliver thinking he can't draw is my fault, too.
To boost Claire's confidence I keep reinforcing how superior her sketches are to her brother's. Really, it's just that girls' fine motor-skills develop faster than boys'.
The meeting ends on an upbeat note. "You have two of the nicest, kindest children in the class," Miss Perry says. "They're a pleasure to be with and Claire doesn't have a bad bone in her body." But later in the day the news is not so good.
"There was a bit of an episode," she says. "Some girls called the lunch lady a 'wee wee' and a 'poo poo' and although I'm sure Claire just got caught up in it, it wasn't very nice."
Ashamed, I force Claire to make a "sorry" card for the lunch lady. Then I have a Eureka moment. "Wee wee," I tell them, comes from an organ called the kidney, and "poo poo" is the by-product of the stomach which is also an organ. "And you must never call anyone by those words EVER again!"Reuse content