When I got home last night I asked Ellie my usual, very simple, question. ‘What did you do today then?’ Ellie’s response was the one that I now regularly hear in relation to school, ‘boring stuff’. Normally, I simply have a wry smile to myself, shrug off the fact that I genuinely have no idea when and how she learned that word, and I let it go. Yesterday however was different.
Yesterday, I’d received a call from school saying that in the process of making crispie cakes Ellie had had an accident. Yes, you read that right – she’d made crispie cakes – that couldn’t possibly be classed as boring could it?! I found myself unable to resist the urge to tackle this boring shenanigans once and for all, and so I continued our conversation with a gentle nudge:
Me: Like what boring stuff?
Ellie: Learning oa in my phonics group and words that have oa in them. I had to write a sentence with an oa word in it. Words like boat and road. [Ellie quickly grabbed a pen and paper to show me her writing.] I did so well I got to bring the doggy home for the night (see below the dog which suddenly appeared).
I duly acknowledged the dog (as well as Ellie’s big smile) and without prompting, Ellie then continued.
Ellie: Oh and I made a mobile. I get to take it home tomorrow so you can see.
Me: What else?
Ellie: We made crispie cakes, and I did some other stuff – I played mums and dads with some of my friends.
My eagle eye then spotted another key sign of fun at school – a pen stained dress and scruffy hair!
I pressed on further although intuitively avoided the historically sensitive subject of the hair:
Me: and you’ve got pen down your dress – how did that happen?
Ellie: I don’t know, I don’t remember.
Me: Well that doesn’t sound at all boring
Ellie: It’s hard work.
I just managed to hold back my guffaw of laughter, but hey presto maybe we were getting somewhere. Maybe she doesn’t mean boring, maybe she means she has to concentrate (although that being a problem in reception is a bit of a worry). With steely determination I decided to move to a direct challenge.
Me: So Ellie, what does boring mean?
Ellie: You have to do stuff that is a bit boring
Me: It means you have to do something that isn’t interesting
Ellie: (nodding) yep
At that point, I can only assume that Ellie sensed my impending win in the conversation and she clearly decided she’d had enough. She wandered off and changed the subject to what more she might have to eat.
As I write this I do of course realise that Ellie’s sharp exit from our conversation means I failed to provide that final winning line of ‘so there you are Ellie, school isn’t boring’. This means that whilst there is quite frankly overwhelming evidence to contradict Ellie’s assertion that school is boring, I think that Ellie might not yet have totally accepted my view. Is it me, or have I been foiled again by a 5 year old.
To be continued…