Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Meeting the locals

There are a number of local mothers who have jobs here.

They are Early Years Workers, Play Group Leaders, Nursery Assistants and Family Support Workers. They do a great job. In order to make the place look 'bedded in' and less intimidating to the 'clients', the Centre uses as many local people as possible.

One lady is tall and thin, with a long black coat, a high pitched voice and a very strong local accent. She gives me the impression of Popeye's girlfriend Olive Oyl.

One of her children is included in the Play Group. He is bright, intelligent, inquisitive and loudly questions everything. He has a huge pair of startling, bright blue eyes that in a Hollywood movie would be part of the visual shorthand for the outwardly-normal-character-who-seems-friendly-enough-but-is-actually-the-Psycho-who-get-killed-horribly-in-the-final-reel.

Olive and Psycho were in the Play Group, and, when it finished, we met in the corridor. I was talking to the Webmaster, when suddenly Psycho ran up, looked up at me, pointed and said (very loudly)

"Look at all those spots!"

As the Webmaster retreated to the office, I suddenly went very self conscious and paranoid and tried to remember just how many spots I had seen in the mirror this morning. One, three, at least four....

Psycho's bright, piping voice echoed again "Look at all those little brown spots!"


I then spent the next five minutes or so trying to explain freckles.

His already huge, clear blue eyes widened with horror as I explained how, when I was a little girl just like he is now, I ran around with no hat and no sun cream and how when I got sunburnt I got all these freckles.

"My Mommy always makes me wear SPF!" he piped, shaking his head at the horror of it all

"And this is why," I said, waggling a finger at my face, "your mummy doesn't want you getting all sunburnt and freckled, like me."

His fine skin was flawless, there wasn't a mark on him.

"You must always wear your sun cream and a hat or you'll get all freckles like me." I continued

"I'm not getting feckles! I'm not!" He was adamant

He grabbed my right hand and pulled my sleeve part way up my arm. His tiny little hands were hot against my cold skin.

"They're all over! And you're hands are cold!"

"Yep," I said, "they're all over me and my hands are fine."

"No they're not, they're all cold and spotty!"

I tried changing the subject.

"Would you like a drink of water?"

He nodded and as I went into the kitchen to get a drink of water for him, I heard him run back to his "Mommy" and loudly tell her about "all the spots on the Lady".

Olive and I exchanged smiles as I handed him a green frog footed plastic beaker with a small amount of water which he still managed to spill on the carpet.

Great, now I'm disfigured.