Diary of a Primary School Mum: 'Thirty kids, our living room, a good idea? Definitely not'

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The Independent Online

I am in shock. Numb. So numb that, despite a fear of needles, I could have acupuncture and not notice. It was more "Holy cow!" than "Hip hooray!" at the twins' fifth-birthday party. Thirty children, our living room, a good idea? It most definitely was not. If I my jaw was clenched tighter than Jordan's buttocks a few weeks ago, it's now stuck with superglue. Either the entertainment (a fairy-tale forest experience) failed to captivate, or the rabble-rousers were always going to rouse. There was an insubordinate faction who failed to join in, and however many times I told them to stop treating my new leather suite like a trampoline, they would not get the message.

While their teacher Miss Perry has them wonderfully under control (they seemed such a lovely bunch when I went into class as a parent reader), I clearly don't have what it takes.

The twins Claire and Oliver, together with two-thirds of the gathering, had a wonderful time. They were oblivious to the gluten-allergic kid and his specially prepared meal falling to the ground. They were oblivious to another child almost losing his finger in a collapsing table. They were oblivious to one idiot parent's phone call once dessert had been served to inform us that their son was allergic to nuts. "Too late," I said, reading aloud the warning on the empty box. "Traces of nuts may be present." Silence. "Not too worry," she said. "He won't die, he just starts scratching madly."

My husband looked like he'd been through five rounds with Mike Tyson when the door closed on our last guests. A staunch advocate of state education, he just had one thing to say: "I think I want to send the twins to private school."

Is it possible, I wondered, that privately educated children are better behaved? I asked my best friend, who is a primary-school teacher. "Don't you believe it," she said. "They are no more sedate than state-school ones. If anything, they can be worse, even more spoilt."

The private vs state dilemma also plays havoc with my jaw. Smaller classes, more one-to-one attention, better facilities – all things I'd like my children to have if only it didn't cost so damn much. Another friend sends all three of her children to private schools, and her youngest won the award for most angelically behaved guest at the party.

This friend knows all about my abhorrence of party bags and their disposable-tat contents. While no comment was made about her daughter's single gift at going-home time, when I tell her about my husband's shift of opinion on state education, she laughs. "You do realise," she says, "that if the twins go to private school, you'd have to do party bags, and would be in constant competition with the Joneses."

Sorry hubby. Party bags will always be out, so state schools are back in.

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