So, it turns out that a classroom full of 7yr old boys can be very noisy. Who’d have thought?
Also, they are FULL of questions. Particularly if you mention bombs.
I should explain. Last week, my son’s year group had ‘War Day’. This wasn’t so much a celebration of all things war-like, but more of a nostalgia 1940’s day in which the boys joined in activities as they might have done during WW2. They dressed up as evacuees, learned about rationing, remembered family members who served in the war and put on a great production, singing old songs from the ’40’s.
Some soldiers even came to the school to drill them around the playground like new recruits, and Warrant Officer Coates showed them . . . here it comes . . . bombs.
Yes. Real bombs. They weren’t live, of course, but, y’know, boys and bombs. Those 7yr old eyes just lit up like white phosphorous flares!
Anyway, as you may know, I have a children’s book coming out next year which is set during the second world war, so I agreed to go in and talk to the boys about . . . well, what could I talk about? I’m no historian, that’s for sure. I’m not a soldier either. But I did find out quite a bit about air raids when I was researching the book.
‘Yes. That’s it’, I thought. ‘I’ll talk about air raids.’
Well, that went down a treat. Because air raids involve bombs, of course. And at the mere mention of the word, the questions rained down on me. One boy in particular was very persistent in his enquiries about the size of different explosive devices and I had to admit my ignorance of detailed bomb knowledge. Warrant Officer Coates had been in already, remember, and his vast array of explodey things made me feel very inadequate indeed.
I was nothing. NOTHING, I tell you.
Perhaps my 1937 civilian gas mask might have diverted their attention but I discovered, just in time, that asbestos was used in the manufacturing process, so I left it at home in an air tight plastic bag.
So what could I do? How could I halt those bomb-related questions? How could I regain my standing in those young eyes?
Eventually I could only placate them with my balloon bomb demonstration which went down a storm (I bet Warrant Officer Coates didn’t do a balloon bomb demonstration), followed by a couple of short films showing . . . you guessed it . . . bombers dropping bombs.
And then, my trump card. I might not be a soldier. I might not have bombs. But I’m a Dad.
And Dads have POWER!
And Dads have KNOWLEDGE!
And Dads know what boys love even more than things that blow up.
Oh yeah, I went prepared with a bag of barley sugars. Proper war-time treats.
Better than bombs any day.