Miss Grey was anxious all weekend about Theo’s weekend visit. She need not have worried. They bounced into class on Monday morning. “High five Miss Grey,” they called laughing. And she laughed and high fived them in turn. “This morning instead of me reading you a story would you boys like to tell the class about your weekend? You have ten minutes.”
Matthew started. ”It was easy all the way. We took the collar and lead for the train. We had a marvellous weekend. Only my brother Arion realised Theo was there. He got a surprise to see a live red dragon. You should see how well Theo can swim.”
“And Arion says I can hold my breath under water much longer than any of them,” interrupts Theo.
Theo is interrupted by Jack. “And don’t forget who opened the cage to pat the guinea pigs and let them escape.”
“But I found them again,” protests Theo.
“And we spent all Sunday morning looking for them,” continues Matthew, “we looked everywhere.”
“But I found them again,” repeats Theo sounding hurt.
Jack starts to giggle. “And you nearly gave that poor neighbour a heart attack when she heard you talking into your cellphone as you flew over the top of her head.
“Well I was just phoning to tell you I could see the guinea pigs running in the orchard,” says Theo, “and that I would go and get them – no one told me I shouldn’t fly.”
“Fly? Theo can fly?” gasped the class.
“He is good at flying, if he has enough room.” Matthew says finishing the story. “But he forgot the guinea pigs were not invisible. While Mrs Wilson was still shocked from hearing Theo talking, she saw our two guinea pigs flying past her by themselves. She had been collecting eggs, she told Mum later on the phone, and was so upset she dropped the whole bowl of them.”
“And, and…” Matthew was laughing so much he could hardly finish to say. ”Mum told her they couldn’t be our guinea pigs because ours were still in their cage.”
By now Matthew was laughing hard, so was Jack and the class is also joining in. Theo looked confused for a moment, then was laughing too. Ho ho ho, ha ha ha, he laughed in his deep grumble voice.
Miss Grey was also laughing, but quietly. She understood perfectly how Mrs Wilson would feel, trying to convince anyone she had heard an invisible voice talking in the sky and how she had definitely seen two guinea pigs flying by.
The school year will be over in another three weeks. Then it is the long summer holidays. But before then there are three special days. Parent Day. The School Beach-Picnic Day. And Prize Giving Day.
All week the classroom walls were being decorated with paintings and stories. There are a couple of strings going from one side of the ceiling to the other. One string has more paintings clipped to it. The other string has bright coloured paper models of the sun and the planets hanging off it. Theo is very proud of the sun. He had made and painted it bright yellow, all by himself. He also has one of his stories and two of his paintings pinned on the walls.
The morning before Parent Day Miss Grey has a nice surprise for the class. She has a big story board in front of her. “Remember how I took your photographs with my red cellphone last week? Well here they are!” And she turned around the storyboard and everyone’s photograph was on it. “I want you to write, in your best writing, on these pieces of paper I am going to give you, a sentence about what you like doing. I shall paste them underneath your photograph. Theo why are you picking up your library book? I have a photograph of you too”
Theo joins the others in the rush to see the photographs. He says, “Look Matthew, I am right up the top under the title ‘Room 9 - Class Mascot.’ And Miss Grey has put up a photograph of the red dragon the class painted on the school hall wall. “And, and, she has added my name underneath the same as everyone else! Theodore Acidophilus Junior,” Theo reads out loud, “I do like my name.” And Theo goes away and writes on his piece of paper to be pasted under his photograph, I like stories, singing and swimming. I also paint pictures.
But Theo is not looking forward to Parent Day. He will be the only one who will not have any family coming to admire his schoolwork. Miss Grey keeps saying never mind, and that she is so proud of how much he has learnt and his handwriting is by far the best in the class. But it is not quite the same. Theo asks Miss Grey, “Should I stay home on Parent Day? I think I will be in the way if I am at school.”
But Miss Grey answers, “I had been thinking about what you were to do on Parent Day. I have a couple of ideas, but let’s ask the class and see if there may be a better idea Theo.”
And before Theo knew it, on Parent Day he was going to be at school but be dressed up as a clown.
“You will need your tail up to fit into a costume,” suggests Amy.
“And you will need a big fluffy wig to hide most of your face,” says Jack.
“And we can paint the rest of his face white, says Michael, “or better still make him a hood and paint a clown face on it?”
Miss Grey adds, ‘Theo that will mean you can talk as much as you like and you can go wherever you want in the school. But, class, we will need a roster to have one person with him all the time, just in case something goes wrong. You will carry a basket to collect donations towards buying two big shade trees for the playground. I shall bring in the basket and write a sign for it.”
And that is how Theo came to be dressed as a clown on Parent Day. It was another sunny day. There was a big crowd of mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers, aunts and uncles and lots of little children too small to be schoolchildren, going in and out of classrooms, up and down stairs and walking around the school. There were running races and hurdles on the football field. A school band played for half an hour in the school hall. There was dancing in bright coloured national costumes from the schoolchildren who were born in different countries. There was a candyfloss stall painted by Room Nine with new paints, a sausage sizzle and pony rides.
Theo was having a wonderful time. Ho ho ho and ha ha ha, he laughed again and again. Everyone had taken turns to keep him company, but Matthew, Janice, Amy, Michael, Marie and Jack took the most turns. They had collected $62.20 in donations by two o’clock. It was only another hour to go to home time when Mr Thoroughgood stopped to talk.
“Hello, you are doing a wonderful job as a clown, everyone loves you, Mr? Mr?
“Mr Theodore Acidophilus Junior.” quickly answers Jack. “He does not speak very much English. He is Matthew’s uncle visiting them from
“Oh, thank you young Jack, do tell Mathew’s parents how much the school appreciates his contribution to the enjoyment of the day,” replies Mr Thoroughgood using the long words he loves to use; but then says. “Never mind, I shall tell them myself. I can see Matthew’s parents standing over there talking to Miss Grey.” And he starts to walk towards them.
“Oh, Mr Thoroughgood, Sir,” Jack catches at the headmaster’s sleeve. “A while ago you were telling us a story about sailing ships. Did you see them on your holiday to
Mr Thoroughgood turned back to Jack, and for the next ten minutes Jack and Theo heard how some of the old sailing ships had been rescued and re-painted and looked good as new. They were now in the
. Mr Thoroughgood’s
ancestors had been sailors. “Unfortunately I don’t like sailing, I can’t even
swim,” ended Mr Thoroughgood. He had forgotten all about going to talk to
Matthew’s parents and walked off to watch a demonstration of Tai Chi. London
“$82,” exclaims Miss Grey at home time. That will buy two very nice trees. Did you have a good day everyone?” And then she looked at all their happy, smiling faces and laughed. “Yes, I can see you did. Now before you go and join your parents who are waiting outside on the playground, there is one last thing I would like you to do.”