The first day I realised I was being replaced in the affections of my child by another woman was when the offspring was learning the alphabet in pre-primary school. He returned from school at the usual time, with the usual vim and vigour of a day well spent creating a complete nuisance of himself in a classroom situation, and sat himself down in front of his alphabet chart with the air of a tenor about to burst into full-throated song.
“Ay Bee Chee Deee….Etch….”
I winced. It was a nail across the blackboard of my mind.
“No no no no, child,” I said, quick to correct him, “It isn’t Etch. You say Aitch.”
He looked at me, his face set in as much surly defiance as he could manage for one so adorable at most times.
“No no no, my teacher tole me say Etch.”
And of course, nothing hapless mammas could say could ever hope to defy the writ in stone of what a teacher would say it was. This was my first time and I thought, mistakenly, that perhaps I could change it. I tried. By the forces above, I tried. I even made him listen to sound lessons on pronunciation, but like Bond, he remained shaken but not stirred.
“Teacher sez Etch.”
And so it has remained Etch for the rest of his life, even though I quail when I hear him spell out a word and stop myself from the automated responding with “Aitch.”
I have since come to realise that what is a hapless mother in the face of adoration for the class teacher who is in all respects perfect, except perhaps for the one he had a couple of years ago. I am sure every mother realises that there is no stronger authority on the planet than the word of a class teacher who is adored, never mind the Nine Months In My Stomach And Then They Cut Me Up To Get You Out emotional blackmail that we perfect to get them to do our bidding.
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