Lesson 69. Shivawn’s Shoes

Lesson 69 on Practical and financial matters

Shivawn sat at April’s table.  She was a very, very picky eater. The school doctor who carried out routine checks and immunisations said she was undernourished.  The head teacher knew the family well.  There were a number of siblings and their mother often found it hard to cope. She wasn’t neglectful or uncaring, but she was a poor organiser and she was bad with money.  She couldn’t add up. 

This was a problem for a number of families.  It made them very vulnerable to the lure of weekly payments, especially when purchasing from catalogues.  They only thought in terms of the weekly total and didn’t realise how much they ended up paying over the odds.

Shivawn’s mother regularly turned up to seek advice on practical matters.  The head didn’t have an “open door” policy as such.  She didn’t need one.  She was rarely in her office for long. She was out and about in school. The parents could always find her at the start of the morning or afternoon, welcoming (and keeping a watchful eye on) the pupils as they filed in.

Shivawn’s eating was one matter on which the head was consulted. It was agreed that the school would ensure that a yoghurt was consumed at breaktime.  Shivawn wouldn’t be allowed the standard reward biscuit until it had all been spooned into her. It was a task that frequently fell to me and it was a long job.  At least it wasn’t as bad as getting her to eat her school dinner. That required a whole range of of bribes.

One day Mrs Reception noticed her limping as she came into class and investigation showed that the sole of one of her shoes had disintegrated.  A quick search of the lost property only came up with an aged pair of flip flops roughly approximating to her size, but enough to see her through the afternoon and get her home.

The next day Shivawn wasn’t in school. An older brother brought in a note to say she was going down the town. In those benighted times going down the Civic or the Social or the town centre for shoes was a familiar reason for a morning’s absence.  Demands for housing transfers or clothing grants were widely considered more likely to succeed if you took a troop of needy children with you. As far as the shoes were concerned, many pupils only had the one pair, so if they gave out during the week, an emergency trip to the town was necessary.

The following day Shivawn was back flaunting her new shoes. The town trip had been successful.

“But Shivawn,” asked Mrs Reception, “How on earth did you manage to get there?”

“We went on the bus,” replied Shivawn proudly

“But what did you wear on your feet?” Mrs Reception pursued the matter.

“Oh it was fine, Miss,” Shivawn reassured her. “I went in my socks!”

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