ago I made a rash promise. The leader of the youth club in our village rang me
in March saying, Were thinking of running a childrens playscheme
for a day in October half-term. Would you be prepared to help? My response
was Sure, why not? In truth I was a little flattered to be asked,
even though working as a care assistant with old people hardly qualified me for
the role. Still, I duly put the date in my diary and of course I forgot all about
it. I dont know if youve noticed this but time has a habit of speeding
along faster than a police car chasing a robber and, before I knew it, the day
arrived at the youth centre that morning feeling full of trepidation. There was
a gang of 12 helpers including me and each pair had been allocated a particular
age group. Mine was the 10 to 11 year olds. Even with the planning meeting I had
attended the week before, I worried about whether I was up to the task. Why hadnt
I read through the copious lesson plans we were given beforehand? And wasnt
the average 10-year-old more interested in the latest Play Station game than making
things with paper and glue?
too quickly the children began arriving. The look of relief on parents faces
as they handed their offspring over to us was quite comical. A handful of the
children were already members of the club but the other forty five or so were
from the local primary schools. Again I asked myself why I had elected to spend
a day with all these little monsters especially when I have two all
of my own to contend with! I
neednt have worried of course as it turned out to be a marvellous day. We
watched entertaining dvd clips, learned action songs, made clay pyramids,
decorated biscuits, played memory games and spent some time in quiet reflection.
I say we because I rediscovered my inner child and joined in all the
particular highlight for me was the final rendition of Hes got the
whole world in his hands in the closing part of the day. The children knew
the words and actions off by heart and sang so loudly it was almost enough to
bring the roof down. Its difficult to explain those moments; only that the
body tingles with the pleasure of having witnessed something so magical.
course there were also moments of great poignancy. I found it difficult to stop
thinking of one little girl, who mentioned oh-so-casually that her mum was in
hospital and would be there for a long time. Its easy for us adults to idealise
childhood and forget that some children have their own burden of anxieties and
concerns. When I got home utterly exhausted, still with modelling clay under my
fingernails, I reflected on what a privilege it had been.
was one disappointment for the children and that was that the playscheme was only
running for a day, and not the whole week. As I said farewell to my group, one
of the children turned and said Can we do it again in the next holiday,
Miss? My response was, Sure, why not?