Today I attended the end-of-term presentation put on by the gymnastics group that my two eldest children attend every Monday morning. Having been to one of these before, I already kind of knew that it’s something you go to purely for the sake of the happiness of your children; in terms of showcasing the ‘skills’ they’ve supposedly ‘acquired’ over the course of the term, well, let’s just say that I’ve seen them perform more interesting manoeuvres just walking around the supermarket.
Anyway, they enjoy it and there is something in me – I think it’s the bit that is often seen enthusiastically waving an Australian flag – that rejoices in the fact of them starting the week at 8am with an hour of physical activity, however tame that might be.
But their instructor, oh lordy. Whatever ‘skills’ she has ‘acquired’ in the course of her gymnastics career, banter and personableness are not among them. Seriously. Personality of a dial tone, and a voice like an emery board on a garden paving stone.
After the demonstration (and much enthusiastic clapping) the children were given their medals and certificates. Next, the announcement that there was to be an extra certificate handed out this term: for children who had achieved 100% attendance. Which mine had, and so they were duly called up.
After photos and whatnot, I wandered over to the coach. She regarded my approach warily; last time we spoke, it was because I was insisting that she re-issue their certificates as she’d mis-spelled their surname. She also knows that I’m friends with another parent, a dad, who’s taken her to task about a non-refundable missed (missed by her, not by the child) lesson.
“So that was fun!” I said brightly. “But, um, the certificates … where’s mine?”
“The certificates? For 100% attendance?” I persisted. “Y’know, because like, who’s the one who’s managed to get them here every week? On a Monday? For 8am?”
I’m joking, of course I am. But her complete failure to get it just makes me perverse. She’s still gawping at me.
“Oh! No certificate! I see,” I say. “So – a discount on next term’s fees then, is that it?”
She actually manages to burble something at this point, a fact that is hardly surprising given her refusal to refund my friend the lesson that she’d cancelled.
Finally I laugh. “I’m joking,” I say. “Goodness! Of course I’m joking!”
She’s off the hook, she relaxes, and says something – I could be wrong, because my ears instinctively turn off when confronted with a displeasing voice – about how parents should get certificates ha ha something. I don’t know, something like that. All I know – and I do know that one shouldn’t take pleasure in another’s discomfiture, so shame on me etc etc – but all I know is that, for the rest of the day, whenever I thought of her expressionless, I-totally-don’t-get-your-humour face, it made me chortle.