For me, a summer spent working at a children’s activity camp positively confirmed Ronnie Corbett’s suspicion that ‘Kids Say the Funniest Things’. I cannot stress enough the levels of honesty and self-assurance which emanate from today’s four year-olds.
Naturally, dating is at the forefront of every Reception student’s mind. They therefore assume that every male and female must fancy each other. So when I took my group to the magic show, they managed to create the single most uncomfortable situation of my life. Despite the fact that Mr Magic was old enough to be my grandfather, the children proceeded to chant ‘You fancyyy him!’ at the top of their voices for what seemed like a lifetime, until eventually this Hawaiian shirt-clad, balding, tubby and impressively camp man distracted them with Punch and Judy. Frankly, I didn’t consider this a wise move considering Punch and Judy are simply the epitome of unresolved sexual tension, which I’m certain only intensified their suspicions.
The human anatomy features closely behind dating in their list of preoccupations. I arrived at a sports session having proudly donned my brand spanking new Nike running leggings, only for angelic looking Rebecca to scream repeatedly “Little willy! Little willy!” whilst jabbing at my crotch. Cheers love. On a mildly hung-over day I rolled up particularly dishevelled, ten minutes late having dragged myself out of bed. I became aware that Charlotte was eyeing me suspiciously from across the Arts and Crafts table. When she initially probed “You look different today” I tried to simply sweep it under the carpet and pursue some other line of thought, but she just wouldn’t let it drop. “Why do your eyes look different? They look smaller. You look pale. Your face looks funny.” JESUS CHRIST YES I HAVE NO MAKE-UP ON. And just when my self-confidence hit rock bottom little Ollie informed me that the anti-bacterial hand-wash smelled just like my perfume.
I have reason to believe that our generation was less outrageous in our early years due to the calm influences of our old friends Postman Pat, Fireman Sam and Flat Stanley. Now it seems that pre-school girls speak in the idiolect of an extra in the cast of Hannah Montana. Their speech is genuinely littered with ‘Duuhhh’s and ‘Whateverrr’s from hours spent glued to Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel. With Hilary Duff as their idol, four year-old girls are attempting to emulate the lives of teenage white trash Yankees. High School Musical lunchboxes, swimming bags, trainers and t –shirts accessorise the faux American accents. Watching the girls wag their fingers and pout I was overcome with nostalgia for the days of Polly Pocket and Kimberly and Trini (the pink and yellow Power Rangers of our era).
I could go on for pages about the countless observations and put-downs I received during my time at the camp, but they’re all on a similar note. Encouragingly I now feel ready to face the big wide world safe in the knowledge that I don’t look good in the morning, I reek of alcohol and my gender is questionable. To be honest, I’m sure they’d say the same to Miley Cyrus if they met her.