BY the cunning dint of having a baby roughly every five years, I have successfully managed to stave off any temptation (not that there was ever much) to be dragged into school activities and events.
Obviously I've attended all the class assemblies and special school church services required. Obviously. But with a small, sticky child in tow being force-fed pieces of fruit, raisins and, in extreme cases (when I'm past caring), Jelly Tots, to keep them within socially acceptable sound levels.
But manning a stall at the school fair? Never. Serving teas to other put-upon roped-in mothers? Not once. PTA meetings? Do me a favour.
With child four now safely ensconced in Class One, I have no defence left AT ALL. I thought about having another baby (not really) or buying a dog, but it appears I am now doomed (bullied by the Small Boy) to stick my hand up like some Pavlovian puppy the minute 'involvement' is required.
First there was the helping out in Science Week. And that wasn't too bad: some mothers, some kids, some experiments... It was over very quickly and didn't hurt a bit. Then there was "Walk Around Our Local Environment" and that started well.
We were all allocated children. The other mothers got four each, I got three. I got The Small Boy who immediately took a dislike to the other two children entrusted to my dubious care. Cue an hour long walk with The Small Boy making it abundantly clear, long and loud, that if anyone was going to be holding my hand it was going to be him.
Whilst corralling The Small Boy into behaving like a, well, small boy and not Macho Drunk In The Bar, the second child decided to dangerously wilt and speak darkly of feeling sick. The third child completely unburdened his heart and almost made me cry.
So what on earth possessed me to volunteer for this week's Smart Week activities, I have absolutely no idea. A weak moment? The need (after 10 years of dragging children in and out of the same primary school) to show that I'm more than the harassed looking hippy mum at the school gates? Who can tell? But whatever; I should shoot my psyche.
Apparently I have volunteered to give six journalism workshops to small mixed classes of primary school pupils (though I'm sure it never said that on the form). I have been a journalist - employed, unemployed and freelance - for nearly 25 years, so OF COURSE I know what I'm talking about.
Workshop One was six four-year-olds and so it didn't really matter if I knew what I was talking about. They didn't have a clue. One went to the toilet and never came back, I'm still expecting a phone-call from the police.
The second workshop went slightly better as all the members could at least read and write although for a group of nine-year-old girls they showed a remarkable knowledge of phone-hacking. I think they were slightly disappointed I didn't turn up with a Basset hound and a magnifying glass. Searching bins was mentioned, just saying.
I have another four workshops to go. I do not anticipate they will go well but console myself that it's probably the last time I will be allowed to volunteer for anything. If there is a banned list of parents, I'm probably at number 43 just after the person who stabs teachers in corridors.
I hope they don't expect me to start baking buns *sighs.*
I'm not going to.