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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Parent/Teacher Interviews! The Day After.

Before I begin, please forgive me for my croaky voice today but I spent four hours straight gibbering on at parent/teacher interviews last night and even my vocal cords have their limit. It was a long day yesterday and I really hoped today would be relatively uneventful.

When I arrived at the shelter shed to collect my class this morning one of my little girls ran up to me in distress, “Mrs Poinker! Octavian is crying and he won’t tell us what’s wrong!”

Sure enough, Octavian sat in the line with small face buried in hands and shoulders shuddering dramatically.

“What’s the matter, Octavian?” I enquired gently as we all walked to the classroom.

“When I went out to see my dog this morning he had a big, bleeding cut right across here,” he sobbed, slicing his finger down his face.

“That’s no good! Did you take him to the vet? Is he alright?” I asked with genuine concern.

“I don’t know Mrs Poinker,” he choked. “Mrs Poinker… Do you know what mythical creatures are?”

“Yes…” I responded, thinking what a strange turn of conversation had just occurred.

“I think some mythical creatures did it to him because he’s a Bandog!” he declared passionately.

“What’s a Bandog, Octavian?” I’d never heard of this breed before. Must be some new exotic type, I thought.

“You know… a Bandog! The ones you’re not allowed to have. The ones you take pig hunting!”

Oooooh…. a “banned dog”, I deduced.

“Octavian, mythical creatures don’t actually exist, mythical means …,” I stopped myself before I went too far when I realised perhaps this was a line his parents had fed him and “mythical creatures” were a pseudonym for “disgruntled neighbours”.

Fortuitously, relief was at hand when we arrived at the classroom door as little Velveteen and her mother were standing there with a cage containing a couple of portly rodents. (I’d agreed she could bring them for show and tell a couple of weeks ago on the promise her Mum would stay and take the squealing creatures home after it was over.)

My class shrieked in joy; even Octavian who seemed to instantly forget the current state of his incapacitated hunting dog.

“Shoosh!” I cautioned. “Guinea Pigs are very sensitive animals.” I didn’t want any fatalities in the classroom today thank you very much.

The students formed a circle with fifty-two saucer like eyes staring at the cage in anticipation.

“Can I pass it around the circle?” asked Velveteen as she dragged the horrified beast from its cage. It had burrowed tightly at the back and was gripping on to the bars of the cage with the tenacity of a prisoner on death row about to be dragged off to the electric chair and I don’t blame it one bit.

“I don’t think that would be very nice for it, Velveteen. You just take it around and let everyone give it a very LIGHT pat,” I said, hoping to protect the animal from having its innards squeezed out of its ear holes like cream cheese out the sides of a cracker.

                             "This can't be going to end well..."

I politely declined Velveteen's kind offer of ‘a hold’ and in order to add an educational element to the occasion asked the class if they knew why guinea pigs were called guinea pigs. Naturally, no one knew, even me, but I thought I’d have a stab in the dark anyway.

“Maybe it’s because they look like pigs and come from New Guinea,” I postulated bravely, then noticed the dubious expression on Velveteen’s mother's face and thought I’d better just shut the hell up.

Eventually the (quite uninspiring) pet was placed back in its cage (still alive) and we all waved it a teary, overemotional farewell.

Incidentally, I looked it up on Pinkypedia and Guinea Pigs do not come from New Guinea. 

I wasn’t even close.

Why do you think they're called Guinea Pigs? No cheating!