13/09/2012 12:36 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

The Primary Days: Schools Assemblies And Wobbly Teeth

The Primary Days: Schools assemblies and wobbly teeth Alamy

I once read that it is of paramount importance that you, as a parent, attend all your children's sports days and assemblies. Their little faces eagerly look out for you, and if you are not there they will be utterly deflated, and it will mess them up for life (or words to that effect).

So with this advice ringing in my ears, despite having a headache (verging on migraine) from hell, I forced myself to go to the Olympics assembly that Betty's school were putting on for the parents. My husband Tom had taken time off work to come along, and so you would have thought this would have been my get out, but I suffer from terrible guilt, so went anyway.

It wasn't until Tom, Dolly (my three year old) and I were walking towards the school hall that I noticed what Tom had dressed Dolly in, while I had been knocking back the painkillers.


I swear he does it deliberately to wind me up. Dolly was sporting a red and white striped dress, rainbow striped tights, a polka dot top and pink crocs.


And both Tom and Dolly were looking quite pleased with themselves, to be honest. My headache suddenly got a lot worse.

I dread taking Dolly with us to these school things at the best of times because she always squirms around, being loud and drawing unwanted attention to us. So, before we had left I had given her a talking to and said she was not to talk or wander around during the performance. To which she told me that she WOULD talk if she wanted to.

All the parents and younger siblings filed into the hall and sat on the school chairs that were all lined up in front of the stage. My clown-garbed daughter sat next to me, like an unexploded bomb ready to go off. Tom sat on the other side of Dolly, trying not to show the strain of keeping her in her seat.

In skipped the Reception class, singing about going for gold, dreams, Team GB and archery, and they danced around the stage for a bit. The teacher clapped every few beats and they changed formation. There was lots of jumping through hoops and punching the air. Betty looked over at Tom at one point and gave him a beaming smile, but totally looked through me, neatly scuppering the single reason for my presence.

Meanwhile Dolly had lulled us into a false sense of security by apparently watching the performance like a well-behaved child. But she chose her moment towards the end when the whole school were standing obediently on the stage in neat rows, while the headteacher handed out Olympic coins to every child.

Completely unprompted, Dolly strolled to the front of where all the parents were sitting, and made sure she was in full view, facing the stage. She silently pulled down her tights and then her pants, and then lifted her dress and held the pose for a moment, while the head continued to hand out coins.

While Dolly coolly showed her bottom to all and sundry, Betty was standing there in the front row, shirt hanging out, yoghurt stains all over her jumper, unashamedly picking her nose and eating her snot.

Even the boy standing next to her (the boy she thinks is going to marry her) looked at her with distaste.

All focus seemed to be on my children. The mums and dads sitting in front of us turned back to look at me and Tom.

"My children obviously lack finesse," I muttered.
To which one parent said, only half-joking: "I wonder where they get that from."

Obviously I was keen to get out of there as soon as humanly possible, but another hurdle awaited us. Betty's tooth had finally fallen out earlier that day, after weeks of suspense and one desperate nocturnal attempt to sneak in and yank the thing out. In the car park, Betty proudly ripped open the envelope in which the tooth had been carefully placed by her teacher – and promptly lost it.

Tom headed back to the classroom to retrace Betty's steps to the car, in case it had fallen out en route. He returned to find me in a slightly crazed state, surrounded by about five and a half families all scrabbling around on the ground looking for the missing denture.

It turns out the car park was covered in tiny stones the exact colour, shape and size as milk teeth. I was beside myself: Betty had already swallowed her first tooth and it was too much to think that this one had also gone AWOL.

Finally we found the tooth (it was still in the envelope, where the thoughtful teacher had sellotaped it) and everyone dispersed, visibly relieved.

We went home then, another assembly out of the way, and only another five to go before the holidays. And the ones at Dolly's pre-school. I started to think of reasons for Tom to go along on his own.

Does your partner delight in dressing your children in weird clothing combos?
And what's the worst school assembly experience you've had?

Catch up on Primary Days columns here.