After three failed attempts due to torrential rain, our school finally held its athletics carnival last week. The school grounds were a sea of red, yellow, blue and green kids supporting their school houses.
I wore a combination of all four colours as I forgot which house I was supposed to be supporting (do you know how hard it was to find something yellow to wear with only minutes to locate it?)
Due to the costume efforts, form assembly became louder and more manic than usual.
“I’m in Red House! Red House!”
“Miss! Can we spray our hair in house colours when we get to the grounds?”
“I think there is a rule saying no coloured hair.”
“But all of 7F have done it!”
“Maybe check with Mr Hurley.”
Nothing like a good handball of an issue to another staff member.
Lining up for the buses, adorned with first aid kits and clipboards, all the teachers exchanged meaningful looks that communicated the thought that no amount of caffeine could prepare us for the day ahead.
It also seemed clear that if we were supposed to be enforcing the rule of no coloured hair it was already too late: at least 80 per cent of the kids had already taken matters into their own hands and the air was thick with the fumes of the coloured spray.
Once at the grounds, the wind picked up and felt like it was blowing in directly from Antarctica.
Standing at my isolated outpost measuring shot putt throws I shivered and shook, delegating the measuring to the eager band of Year 8 students gathered around so that I could keep a better lookout for the arrival of coffee and something to eat.
“You didn’t measure it from the right spot.”
“Yes, we did!”
“No, it’s supposed to be measured from here, not there.”
“No, that’s where Miss Adams told us to measure from.”
“What’s the problem?”
“They measured my throw wrong.”
“No, we didn’t.”
“Yes, you did.”
“Where is the shot putt now?”
“I’m holding it.”
“Well, we can’t measure it again whilst someone’s holding it. Caitlyn and Jess, why don’t we just let Tamika throw again and then we can all measure it together. Is that okay with you, Tamika?”
“Yep. But not if I don’t throw as far.”
“I’m sure you will throw just as far this time.” Crisis averted.
“Just a reminder that we are about to start the annual teacher and student relay. Let’s see who is faster this year — the PE teachers or the Year 12s. No students with coloured hair are to run in the relay…” Greg, the principal announced over the loud speaker system. Janice, the assistant principal, rushed over and spoke with him.
“Right, you can disregard my previous message about coloured hair.” Clearly, Janice had seen that half of the PE department had followed suit and had sprayed their hair as well. I guess there’s a big kid in all of us.
Christina Adams is a member of the Australian Education Union (Victoria) and a stand-up comedian