I sat outside the bathroom door last night totally enraptured by the singing that was emanating from the bath tub. I listened to the sweet little voices of my eldest two sproglets as they enthusiastically sang the classic song, ‘Oats and Beans and Barley Grow’, correcting each other on the lyrics every now and again. I hadn’t heard that song in over 20 years, perhaps even closer to 30. It was a harvest festival favourite at my school and we would practise for what felt like weeks to perfect it ready to present to our proud parents in a hall that was filled with sweetcorn, courgettes and carrots.
I couldn’t help but feel awfully nostalgic for those early school years; seeing my own children begin their school journey has brought it all back to me. As I sat listening to my children sing that once so familiar song my mind was transported to my own school days, days that were spent sitting cross-legged on the parquet floor of our vast Victorian school hall. Sometimes I would sit there and let my mind wonder as I traced patterns on the floor while rolling my white knee-length socks up and down.
But mostly fidgeting of that sort was frowned upon and I would be forced to crane my neck up with all the other kids and sing along to the handwritten lyrics that beamed out of the overhead projector. I remember joining in with the unruly chortling as the teacher fumbled with the acetate, they never seemed to get it right first time, it would often appear upside down and back-to-front, which seems beyond funny when you’re 7.
What I remember most, however, was the agony of being made to sit for hours (surely it was hours) on a hard wooden floor with our legs neatly crossed, our backs up straight and our attention fully focused on the rambling grown-ups. Once we reached year 6, we were deemed worthy enough to sit on chairs, actual real-life chairs! But, until that time came, me and my classmates would spend many uncomfortable mornings getting pins ‘n’ needles and dead-legs on the floor. And here we reach the point of my own ramblings – when people ask me what it feels like to have MS or what the pain feels like in my legs, the nearest thing I can liken it to is the pain experienced in those wobbly moments when, as a child, you gingerly got up from sitting cross-legged on the floor to find that your legs had all but disappeared from under you, they would be heavy and numb and tingly and you would try to discreetly shake that all off while being herded back into the classroom. That’s how my legs feel. That’s how my legs feel all the flippin’ time – but now, unfortunately, there can be no shaking it off.
I’m the sassy yellow doll to the right of the shot – clearly unhappy at the prospect of sitting on the hard wooden floor for the rest of the day while the whole school perform Christmas!