Saturday, 1 October 2011

An Absence of Pants

Years ago, during my first year as a teacher, there was an ongoing problem in my classroom: A pair of homing pants.  Like a tenacious pigeon, the same pair of age 7 Leeds United briefs kept appearing and reappearing in various places around the room.  I first located them at the end of a PE lesson after everyone had got changed, perching jauntily on the back an abandoned chair, grey from too many washes and to put this?...soiled.

I picked them up with a pencil and waved them in the air like a flag.

"Who is minus a pair of pants?" I asked.


"Anyone accidentally take their pants off when they were getting changed and forget to put them back on again?"


*sigh* "Right, everybody check to see if they've got their pants on."

*flurry of pant checking related activity and much sniggering*


"One pair of Leeds pants, age 7, must belong to somebody," I called, whirling them around my head.

"Eurghhh, they're not mine!"

"Leeds are the scum!"

"They've got someone's bum juice on them."

"Last call for a pair of Leeds pants, going in the bin in five...four...three...two....ONE."

The pants hit the bin.  The episode was over.

Or so I thought, until a few days later when they reappeared on my desk.

"Seriously now, whose are these pants?" I asked, and the class collapsed into fits of giggles, which was fair enough; pants are funny.

Again, they ended up in the bin.  Throughout the rest of the school year, to the delight of all in the classroom, the persistent keks turned up in my desk drawer, in various PE kits ("EEEK!  Miss Hale!  Those skiddy pants are in my PE bag"), wedged behind the pipes of the  class toilet, on the book shelf hidden behind "Sharks and Other Creatures of the Deep" ("ARGHHHHHH! MISS HALE!  I touched them!  I've got PANT FLEAS" and brazenly sellotaped to the window.  They took on the status of a legend within the class.  Rumours sprang up that they were haunted.  One child swore that they glowed in the dark.  Nobody ever claimed them, and no matter how much I tried to bury them in the bin, they just kept on reappearing.  I never found out who was doing it although I suspect a colleague or a child in the class who had a particularly malevolent sense of humour.  I finally got rid of them for good on the last day of summer term, although I half expected to receive them as a leaving present when I moved away a year later.  Happily, I did not.

In this household, we seem to have the opposite of homing pants.  We have a distinct absence of pants.  Rory's pants, to be precise.

We potty trained him several months back and purchased two multi packs of underpants; some with pirates on ("ARRRR") and some featuring the beaming faces of Thomas the Tank Engine and his pestilential mates.  We definitely started off with fourteen pairs of pants.  We're now down to four.  I discovered this a few days ago.  One pair was in the wash, one pair was in his drawer where they were supposed to be, much rummaging about uncovered a stripy pair lurking at the bottom of his toy car box and an inspired moment of motherly intuition resulted in the discovery of the Percy the Green Engine ones stuffed into a Russian doll.  The rest were nowhere to be found, and, knowing Rory as I do, I looked everywhere, even in the freezer.  Especially in the freezer.

"Where have all your pants gone Rory?" I asked.

"Oh, I just don't know Mummy" came the innocent reply.  "Maybe perhaps in the washing machine."

They were not in the washing machine.  

I pondered this for a couple of days on my own, not wishing to drag Richard into the trivial domestic thoughts of a mother who is clearly Losing It, but eventually I gave in and asked if he'd seen any rogue pants anywhere.

"Oh," he said, "I caught Rory throwing a pair in the bin last week after he took them off."

"Rory", I asked, "have you been throwing your pants in the bin?"

"Yes, pants in bin.  Very stinky indeed", he replied.

So that solves that.  Ever since he was a tiny baby, we've thrown urine soaked nappies straight into the kitchen bin after removing them (go on, judge me.  I'm sure I should have been wrapping them in little scented bags with odour neutraliser and anti bacterial what-have-yous inside them and throwing them in the dustbin.  If it makes you feel better, we always put poo nappies in plastic bags and put them in the wheelie bin, although admittedly we usually left them festering on the doorstep for a few days because the bin was an entire 5 metre walk away, probably delighting the milkman and all other doorstep dwellers in the process).  He was just copying what we'd always done.  Slack parenting comes back and bites me on the arse yet again.

Tomorrow we will purchase another multi pack of age 2-3 pants, all of which we will not lose.  I'm considering getting some Leeds United ones.  They seem adept at coming back and biting you on the arse too


  1. Best post ever lise... Man that pants story is funny xx

  2. Until the mystery was solved, I wondered if Rory's pants were eloping somewhere with Isabel's knickers, in a sort of underwear Romeo and Juliet scenario. I have dozens of pairs of pants, and I seem constantly to be washing them, and yet I can never find any and on nursery days (when spare pants are required in her bag) I'm tearing the house apart looking for knickers.