Somehow, I managed to round up the scattered kids, grabbed Christopher and ran back to the school. I tried to hide the blood and my panic from the other children, but inside I was freaking out. Fuck, fuck, I’m going to get fired on my first day! Oh my God, what if he’s brain-damaged. What am I going to tell his mother? Help, help, help! I’ve killed a child! Who the hell left me in charge? Are they crazy?

The thirty-second journey back to the school seemed to take forever. At last we arrived, thank God, without losing anybody along the way. I burst into the classroom and thrust Christopher into Tweedle Dumb’s arms before breaking down. Through heaving sobs and hysterical apologies, I tried to explain. It took hours and litres of sugar water to calm down. I think I was more traumatised than poor little Christopher, whose mother arrived to take him to hospital. All stitched up, he was back at school the next day, proud of his battle scars. So, my first day as a teacher was also my worst experience as a teacher. I literally scarred a little boy.

I still had a job, though I would have given anything to never go back there again. But I did, and it did get better. I loved my kiddies and enjoyed seeing them grow and learn, knowing I was helping them.

I resisted all the Tweedles’ attempts to convert me to happy-clappydom, but I took perverse pleasure in their irritation at my blank stares as they tried to convince me that I needed Jesus in my life. I would smile and nod, listen intently, then go on my merry, heathen way. I loved to piss them off by leaving Hare Krishna literature out on my desk for them to see. Aneurysms all round. Hilarious. They made my life hell, so I had to take my entertainment where I could find it.

After eighteen months, I had to leave – or run the risk of losing my mind, not to mention my natural aversion to inflicting grievous bodily harm. Steven was miserable, I was miserable, the money sucked. They were offended at my reasons for leaving – namely disapproval of their draconian teaching methods and their shite personalities, but I gritted my teeth and got through my notice period with my sanity just barely intact.

Steven thrived at his new school. It was astonishing to see the difference in his behaviour. Although he always remained shy and sensitive, the relaxed, caring environment did wonders for his confidence.

But while Steven was okay, I was, of course, jobless. Interview after interview for preschool teaching jobs followed, but all were far from home, with rotten pay. Taking any of those would have meant that I’d pay out of my own pocket for the privilege of wiping up snot ten hours a day. Not worth it.

Sad, but one must move on. And I was moving on in more ways than one. After three years together, James and I broke up. I suppose we’d drifted apart, as they say. We’d both grown up and changed, and although we cared about each other, it was the idea of each other that we’d been in love with.

Ours was a protracted, ugly, on-again, off-again break-up that went on for months. He loved my long hair. I cut it short. He hated my hairdresser. I dated him.

Getting over James took time – for years afterwards, my stomach still did that sick little ex-boyfriend-looking-happy-without-me lurch whenever I saw him. At the time, the idea of not being with him was foreign and painful. It also meant I had to abandon, for now, our shared dream of a white picket fence and a happy little family. Worst of all, Steven was losing the only dad he’d ever known.

But the question I had to ask myself was this: Was it James I wanted, or was it what he represented for me? Horrible as it is, I think I know the answer.