Ben raised his hand and I braced myself. It's an automatic reaction that is necessary for survival with certain students, and this one rarely fails to disappoint.
"Miss, why would you put beans in your boots?"
"I'm sorry?" I asked. Clearly this one was going to take some untangling.
"In Question 7, it says we have to estimate how many baked beans you'd need to fill a pair of wellies. Why would you want to put beans in your wellies?"
I leaned over to read the question over his shoulder and read the question. They were working on estimating and doing arithmetical calculations in their heads. I shook my head.
"I'm not sure I understand, Ben"
"But miss, you don't put beans in boots"
"I'm sorry, but I'm still not with you." I replied sadly. "Are you trying to be funny?"
"No miss!" he asserted. Slightly untruthfully I felt as he now had the attention of the class, which was almost certainly what he wanted. "Look, it really says it-"
"I can see that, Ben"
"-And that's really gross!"
I took a deep breath. "But everyone keeps their beans in their wellies. Are you trying to tell me that you don't?"
He grinned. "I put my feet in my boots."
"GROSS!" I made a face. "Why would you put your feet in your beans?"
"Do you put your feet in all your food?" I interrupted.
"No miss, I-"
"Just your beans then."
"I don't put beans in my boots!"
"I don't get it" I replied, shrugging. "I thought everyone kept their beans in their boots. Right gents?" I appealed to the class who were, for once, listening with rapt attention. True to form, as one man, they nodded their agreement, chorusing "Yes miss!"
Ben wasn't going down that easily. "But I don't put my feet in my beans. I eat them."
"You eat your feet???!!!" I exclaimed. "That's really bad for your health you know, Ben."
"No! The beans!"
I raised my arms in mock despair. "You eat your beans after you've put your feet in them?"
"Not the beans, the boots"
"I wouldn't eat your boots if I were you." I advised. Pretty good advice and I stand by it. "Plus, if you eat your boots, where do you put your beans?"
Ben spluttered. "Miss..."
"I'm sorry Ben, I'm going have to discuss this with your parents at parents evening tomorrow night. Do they know your put your feet in beans and then eat them?"
"I don't, miss."
I frowned at him. "You said you did. So either you lied before or you're lying now. Something else I'm going to have to tell your parents."
Ben wasn't giving up that easy. "But miss-"
This was as far as I was prepared to let him get through that sentence. Enough time messing about, time to carry on with some actual learning.
"Actually, lots of people have quite smelly feet". I mused out loud.
"Cheesy feet!" piped up Elliot.
I grinned. "Exactly. Cheesy feet. And I don't know about you, but I don't fancy cheesy feet beans on toast for lunch. So either you pack it in now, or that's exactly what I serve you all at lunchtime. In detention." I smirked at Ben and he knew himself defeated. Score: Miss Smith 1.
P.S. For those who were wondering, it takes about 15 tins of beans to fill a pair of adult wellies. This troubled Elliot somewhat as he'd put 2000, but he'd worked out the number of beans, instead of the number of tins, as requested in the question. For purposes of thoroughness, we worked it out and you actually need about 6000 beans. Delicious!