There’s been another phone call. It would be so wonderful to be one of those families that don’t get phone calls of this nature but we’re not of that ilk. I was just about to sit down to a lunch of spicy Thai noodles when the phone rang. It was the principal of the local primary school. My heart sank on hearing his voice because I knew he wasn’t phoning to find out if I had enjoyed my weekend.
Some children pass through school without their parents becoming known by all the staff who sit in larger offices but my children are of the kind where receiving phone calls or being asked to come in for a meeting is standard. At Alfie’s school, we’re on first name terms now, he (principal) and I, and this is not out of the ordinary because I’m on first name terms with all the principals, vice-principals, counsellors and Year Coordinators that have had the pleasure of ‘educating’ my children.
So I let him speak.
‘There’s been an incident involving your son…’
And a million possibilities flashed across my mind.
‘He’s not in any kind of trouble…’
Then why’s he ringing?
‘It’s just that during recess…’
And on and on he went.
Alfie, my charming little six-year-old, is best not left unsupervised. As the story goes, during recess he walked into the office block (apparently totally unnoticed by all ancillary staff – a great feat in itself), then he headed into the vacant principal’s office (still unnoticed) and hid under the principal’s desk. When the bell rang for the end of recess the principal returned to his office and sat down on his swivel chair at his desk. Right at that moment Alfie jumped up from under the desk and roared like a lion. The headmaster received the fright of his life. His startled reaction threw him backwards and that upturned his swivel chair and resulted in him being splattered across the carpet tiles. He looked up to see Alfie standing there with a huge grin on his face like this was the best possible result for his planned assault.
No, the principal wasn’t the slightest bit amused and once he had picked himself up off the tiles and smoothed down his crumpled suit, he questioned the ancillary staff as to how this boy came to be in his office and did anyone know how long he had been there.
Alfie could have answered those questions.
And the problem the principal now faced is that he very much would like to discipline Alfie for giving him a shock of such magnitude it nearly caused his heart to cease to beat, but sadly, there just wasn’t a precedent for sneaking into the principal’s office, hiding under his desk and waiting to give him an aging experience. So being completely confused as to what to do with him, he decided to call me.
Apart from suggesting he lock his office, what did he expect me to say?
I think I did ask after his well-being, ‘Not too bruised I hope?’ And I did soothe things over by saying his father and I would have a serious word to him about how hiding under the principal’s desk waiting to scare him half to death was probably a poor choice of activity.
On being somewhat ‘soothed’ the principal then let me know that Alfie would not be punished; mostly because they are unsure as to what disciplinary measures they should take. He’s left them all confused!
My spicy Thai noodles are now cold. But I have on hand the exact ingredients I need to cook Thai Spring Rolls so I’m making these instead. Alfie loves these and they’ll be ready for when he returns from his busy day at school.
The recipe I have used is from the Spirit House cookbook.
Pork and Glass Noodle Spring Rolls
Makes 20 spring rolls
Degree of Difficulty: 2/5
Cost: Very inexpensive
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tspn white peppercorns
1 tbspn chopped coriander root and stem
1 tbspn vegetable oil
1/2 red onion, finely diced
120g minced pork
1tbspn palm sugar
2 tbspns fish sauce
50g glass noodles, soaked and cut into 5cm pieces
100g bean sprouts
1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander leaves
packet of spring roll wrappers
2 tbspns cornfour
2 tbspns water
vegetable oil for frying
1/2 cup sweet chilli sauce
In a mortar, pound garlic, peppercorns, coriander root and stem to a paste. Heat 1 tbspn of oil in wok, add onion and stir-fry until softened. Add paste and stir-fry briefly. Add pork and stir-fry until cooked, about 5 minutes. Add palm sugar, fish sauce and glass noodles, then remove from heat. Allow to cool. Stir in bean sprouts and coriander leaves.
Lay a spring roll wrapper on a board. Place 1 tbspn of mixture in centre and roll packed as tightly as possible. Seal the ends with a paste made from the cornflour and water. Heat oil in wok until medium hot and fry spring rolls until golden, about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towel. Serve with sweet chilli sauce.