Covid-19 has thrown many parents into the deep end of home-schooling. Photo: Shutterstock
Sadie Kaye
Sadie Kaye

Home-schooling hell and how the end of the world turned me into a bad primary school teacher, not Buffy

  • Radio host Sadie Kaye struggles with the difference between a seed and a pip as she fends off her kids’ questions in a toilet-roll-less house

The schools were closed and the world had gone mad. Now we were all working from home and attempting to keep our kids entertained and educated, while trying to have a Zoom conference somewhere peaceful, like the broom cupboard. As for home-schooling, it turned out I’m quite a strict teacher. By the end of day two, I’d already given our kids 143 detentions.

Nobody saw this one coming. The trashy TV shows we watch about the apocalypse on Netflix never mention a worldwide shortage of loo roll or paper masks that at first glance look as if they’re going to provide the same level of PPE effectiveness as Sellotaping a paper plate on your nose. I’d always hoped the end of the world would forge me into some Buffy-esque, Lycra-clad, zombie-killing anti-hero, not a s*** primary school teacher.

“Mummy, how do you spell ‘fur’?” asked my boy. It’s been 0.4 nanoseconds since his last question.

“Use the dictionary, darling!” I announced airily.

“I can’t!” he whined.

“Yes, yes you can! You just look it up in the dictionary, that’s what it’s there for!” I enthused, like a demented Westworld extra.

“No, no, I can’t!” wailed our son. “A dictionary is for finding out the meaning of words you already know how to spell! I can’t look it up if I don’t know to spell it, can I?”

He had a point.

How do you find a word in a dictionary that you don’t know how to spell? Photo: Shutterstock

“He’s quite the cocky little so-and-so for someone who doesn’t know how to spell ‘fur’, isn’t he?” whispered my subconscious.

I sighed wearily. “OK, this is how you spell fur: it’s ‘F’, ‘U’…” and here I left a longer-than-necessary pause “…‘R’”.

“Thanks Mummy!”

“Thanks Miss,” I corrected him. “I’m your teacher, remember?”

“Mummy, what’s the difference between a seed and a pip?”

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I faked an urgent phone call because I had no idea if there even was a difference and vacated the classroom, which is also the kitchen. Daddy was in the broom cupboard on a Zoom conference, so I nipped into the bathroom and shut the door. We were out of loo roll again so a kitchen roll sat on the toilet. Daddy had promised himself he wouldn’t use that again. He almost bled out the first time.

I dry-swallowed a couple of Imodium. I wasn’t so much self-isolating as self-constipating. Our eight-year-old daughter walked in and caught me standing there, googling “pip”.

“What are you doing, Mummy? You’re meant to be teaching us!” she demanded suspiciously, her eyes narrowed, like a young Clint Eastwood.

“Florence, what have I told you before? You must never, ever walk into the staff room!”

Sadie Kaye’s Sharp Pains airs on RTHK Radio 3’s 123 Show the last Tuesday of each month.