Posted on Jul 26, 2014

The summer term is (often) the term when we teach the children about the continents. Amongst many other activities, they make their own map of each continent and position on it items that represent features that can be found there eg Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa, or the Eiffel Tower in Europe. For the South American map, sugar is one of the features, with Brazilians not only producing masses of the stuff but leading the world in sugar consumption (59 kilos per capita per year!).

Somewhat rashly, we use a sugar cube to represent sugar. This cube of deliciousness is stuck on to the map using PVA glue. The children don’t know what to make of this, coming (mostly) from families who, if they allow their children sugar at all, only do so when accompanied by catacysmic warnings as to its BADNESS. Thus, the children, who know exactly what a sugar cube is, will open the bidding with:

“Is this an iceberg, Miss Emily?” They know, of course, that it’s sugar. They know that you know it’s sugar but they also know (from experience) that, as an adult, you are going to deny it. They help you to save face by suggesting at the outset that it’s an iceberg.

“No, it’s sugar.” This is a most surprising answer.

“Real sugar for eating?”

“Yes, real sugar for eating, but this sugar we are going to use for gluing.” What the children think of this response is not known because by this time they have spotted the box of sugar cubes, which Miss Emily keeps as close to her person as is possible without actually ingesting it. If you ever want to make your child entirely invisible except for thumb and forefinger, keep a box of sugar cubes close by and watch it carefully. The child you do not see, hear or even sense. A leopard in the dead of night makes more noise than a child hunting a sugar cube. Just watch the box, and do not blink.

In time, the children realise that Miss Emily has been doing this for a lot longer than they have and they settle down, glue a cube on to their map and wait. They wait for the day when the map “goes home”. Ah, mother or no mother (and, in any case, mothers are no match for determined children), that cube is ripped off between school door and pavement and eaten glue and all.