Tuesday, March 8, 2011

If I ruled the world, every day would be the first day of Spring

I have broken Rule 243 of parenting. (For a copy of the complete rulebook send £14.99 to the usual address.)
‘For the last time, I don’t care what they say, March 1st is NOT the First Day of Spring!’
‘But Mummy! The teacher SAID!’
Rule 243 states: ‘Thou Shalt Not Disagree with Things Primary Teachers Have Told Your Child.’ There’s a clause which lists exceptional circumstances around creationism and sexism and whatnot but we rarely need to invoke this in Lewes.
Thing One’s nearly in tears, for I have brought Doubt and Confusion to her small teeming mind.
I try and restrain myself, force a smile and mutter, ‘We’ll have to agree to disagree won’t we,’ (which I completely don’t agree with), before I break rank and shout, ‘But everyone knows it’s the 21st March.’
Once Crèche Manager has arbitrated, rather poorly in my opinion, by telling me to grow up and by letting Thing One watch four episodes back-to-back of Chop Socky Chooks, I sneak off to confirm that I am correct. But Google is a horrible let-down. Apparently the 1st/21st argument isn’t new; as far back as 2006 Nicholas Winterton, Tory MP for Macclesfield, was taking up the cudgels in this debate. To my chagrin I realise I am on the same side as Winterton, and that it is the Met Office who have designated 1st March as Officially Spring. I frantically search for evidence that Winterton might know more about these matters than the Met. Is he perhaps a secret climatologist or hippy? But in amongst all his jolly activities such as supporting Section 28 and capital punishment, there is no mention that he likes to send up weather balloons, or even that he hangs seaweed from his window.
As penance I offer to take Thing One on a walk so she can be knowledgeable about the Signs of Spring and impress her teacher in a way that my playground ranting might have failed to do. There are many signs: the ducks are back on the Winterbourne Stream, there are purple crocuses most everywhere, and some trees have sprouted brave blossoms. Someone walks past with a plastic daffodil on their lapel and I try and engage them in Welsh but they hasten quickly away. Thing One rolls her eyes at me, a Sign of Teenhood I wasn’t expecting to see for a few years.
We go through the Grange: catkins, green leaves, mating frogs, (‘Come ON, Thing One!’ ‘But Mummy this is interesting.’). Then into town: Priory schoolgirls with bare legs, the road being dug up, Easter eggs in Waitrose.
‘There,’ I say magnanimously. ‘You and your teacher are right. It is Spring after all.’
But Thing One scrunches up her brow, clearly struggling to comprehend the bewildering nature of evidence versus anecdotal report. ‘Mum, if it’s Spring why is it still freezing?’
‘Well sweetie,’ I say, failing to hide my glee, ‘That’s something you’re going to have to ask your teacher.’

Beth Miller, 1st March 2011. Published in VivaLewes.com and Viva Lewes handbook, March 2012

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