Did we like it?
Fran Landsman’s portrait of the reception class at Moorlands Infants School in Bath was delightful.
What was good about it?
• The weird kids we had earmarked as future serial killers soon became sweet and sociable, thanks to cheery Mrs Southwell
• The mother of Dylan – a burly, speccy kid who loves play fighting – hoping that he’ll remain “bonkers” and predicting he’ll become a tough rugby player who’d come home bloodied after a match and then weep through a sad film.
• The star of the show was Isaac, over-protected by his mother since his father died a year ago. His early days at school saw him unable to dress himself and unable to make friends. While everyone else picked a happy face from a basket to match their feelings, Isaac grabbed a miserable one. “I’m sad ‘cos no one plays with me,” he confessed. But by giving him a plastic dinosaur every time he behaved well and refrained from biting Ibrahim, he soon became a popular well-adjusted pupil, like everyone else.
• Our illusion that five-year-olds only talk about Barbie or dinosaurs was shattered: Joshua told Molly he’s going to have sex with her, while hands were held wide apart during this shocking conversation: “Do you know how big my dad’s willy is?” “My daddy’s willy is about that big, it is really.” “Actually my dad’s willy is that big. It is really, I’m not joking.”
• The kids-say-the-funniest-things element. “That’s a boy because he’s got black skin.” “I’ve got a friend with black skin and she’s a girl.”
What was bad about it?
• The uncomfortable feeling that teachers crouching down to reason with kids and dishing out stickers with monkeys on may not be working. Weren’t kids better behaved when teachers use to snap and slap?