The idea was that every parent and child would paint a fish together and the finished work would form part of a mosaic. I traipsed to school in the rain and was greeted at the door by a friendly boy who knew which child to fetch and returned with an impatient small son.
We got to work with a pebble, some paint, a paintbrush and small son completed the mission with two brushstrokes.
“Done”, he said and got up to return to the classroom.
“Hang on,” I said, doing my best to sound positive while the parents and children around me worked together harmoniously. People had their heads together in partnership, carefully choosing paint and designing fish. I could barely make small son sit down.
“That is not a fish”, I tried to say. There was literally an artist next to us. A woman who makes a living doing this. Hers had a face and fins. Ours didn’t. “It looks like a tie dye t-shirt.” she said, trying to be generous.
“But we were watching a film. A Disney film,” protested small son. He ran off, leaving me to sit alone. I think the head teacher felt sorry for me and she said I could take him home if I wanted.
He had football, so I thought I’d continue to mooch around. I must have looked so hopeless that one of the very posh mums actually spoke to me.
“Where is the paper towel”, she asked.
“In the bathroom?” I suggested.
“I can’t possibly go in there!”, she looked horrified, so I went in for her to fetch it before deciding that I might as well as well get small son ready for football. This task usually takes ages, but is completed in minutes today. More waiting.
A child kicks a ball and it accidentally hits small son who thinks this is a deliberate act and starts howling. I take him home. There’s ‘only one you’ I think to myself.