Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Terror Incognita

Quite a few moons ago I worked at a nursery school teaching ankle biters children between the ages of two and a half and five.
I'm really not sure how I ended up in the job as I've never been over keen on children (If I'd had a body clock, someone forgot to supply the batteries) but after some cogitation I think it was me trying to see if I did indeed have any maternal urges whatsoever*
But anyway, work in a nursery school for a year I did, and to be honest, most of it was good fun.
The children liked me. Probably as with cats, they can sense disinterest and head straight for the person who's ignoring thems lap to settle down and make themselves known and comfy - why? I have no idea and if anybody can tell me, please do.
Also working in the nursery school was a girl the same age as me (give or take a few months) who I shall call to protect the not so innocent, Miss Carrie.
Miss Carrie and I were not only the same age, but we looked alike, were the same height, and also dressed with almost identical outfits which neither of us planned on doing, it just happened. We became good friends, and after a couple of months of my starting the job we had an excellent routine worked out which resulted in mostly happy children** and an almost telepathic instinct for when things needed sorting out.
The children didn't seem too bothered about having teachers that were interchangeable either except when it came to remembering who was who when it came to our names, but we sorted that by just being 'who ever was nearest', and simply replying to the name 'Miss'.
But there was one major way to be able to tell the difference between Miss Misty and Miss Carrie.
Miss Carrie was terrified of wasps, bees, and anything else that was stinggy and flew, while Miss Misty was (and still is, although is getting much better) scared shi terrified of spiders.
Both of us were phobic about the bloody things, and this was a problem when working in a nursery school as the last thing you want to do (unless you really want to emotionally scar the kids for life) is to have a panic attack when confronted with the cause of your phobia.
But as with everything else, we managed to sort out the problem.
If a tot came over to one of us and said 'Miss! There's a spider in the corner of the room!' then Miss Carrie would deal with it, and vice versa if there was a wasp flying around by the windows.
I was fine with stinggy flying things, and Miss Carrie was a whizz at removing arachnids from the toilets and so.
Between the two of us the nursery was safe from the day-to-day horrors of all things crawly and creepy.
Until one day.
One day, everything was happy in nursery world. The morning's lessons were over and after playtime and lunch, everybody was ready for a well deserved nap time, and so Miss Carrie and Miss Misty settled the little ones down on comfy mats, covered them with fluffy blankets, turned the lights down low and went to get themselves a well deserved coffee and biscuit to sustain them while they got to preparing the afternoon's activities.
All was happy and peaceful and well with the world.
Until one little boy quietly got up from his mat, came over to us and informed us that in the corner of the room, there was a 'Bumblespider'.

My mind raced as I tried to imagine what sort of unholy creature a 'Bumblespider' was, and looking at Miss Carrie, I could tell she was thinking exactly the same.
WT and indeed F, was a 'Bumblespider'?
Was it some sort of enormous flying tarantula that stung you? Or was it simply a creature from the child's imagination?
We asked the boy to describe the beastie and he looked at us with exasperation in his eyes and said again that it was a 'Bumblepider'.
No help whatsoever there then.
Fighting the urge to run away screaming and to leave to children to sort it out by stamping on whatever the f*£& it was,***, we both took a deep breath, steeled ourselves for whatever was lurking in the corner, and went to investigate.
By the time we got there we were both shaking somewhat and trying desperately to conceal our fears, and quietly I asked the boy to point to where this 'Bumblespider' was lurking.
We peered into the gloom where he was pointing and made out a shape, not unlike a spider.
I glanced at Miss Carrie, she glanced at me, and she was about to deal with the beastie when suddenly it flew up into the air!
Both of us tried to muffle a scream at that point, but in a split second I realized it was a Daddy-long-legs, and therefore my department, and just before the little boy began screaming I managed to catch it and take it outside.
Instead of a room full of screaming children, we only had to deal with one small boy's tears and having to reassure some of the kids who had been woken up suddenly by the commotion.
It took me and Miss Carrie quite some time to stop shaking, but after that we felt we could deal with anything the little ones could come up with.
Until the time there was a Jabberwocky under the piano, but that's a story for another day.

*Answer - no. Seeing what little horrors small children can be and being wee'd and vomited on by other people's kids for little reward or thanks certainly made me come to a conclusion about that.
**As with big people, nothing in life is always perfect.
***Children are good at that; always have been, always will be.