I’m working hard on a PR campaign.
“Look,” I say to Ben, pointing out a badly photocopied page from yet another school prospectus, “in Year 6 you get to spend a week in France…”
“Hm,” says the child who’s spent nearly every holiday and half term break for the past year in France.
“..you’d be going with your friends,” I persist, “sounds like fun doesn’t it?”
“Yeah,” he replies, in a tone reminiscent of his father when Lincoln City are on a losing streak, “if I’ve even got any friends by then,”
He’s only in Year 4.
Does he really think that after two years at his new school, he’ll have no friends?
What does that say about his self-confidence/enthusiasm for new experiences/zest for life?
In a seemingly unrelated, but entirely relevant incident – stay with me here – we are on our way home from an abortive attempt to get to swimming lessons.
Abortive because the traffic jam on the A38 was so bad I gave up.
We’d already missed Hannah’s lesson, and the rows of cars parked on the Devon Expressway meant Ben’s class was looking just as hopeless.
When we got home, Ben grassed me up –
“Mummy swore twice today,” he told his father, who obviously never swears in front of the children. Not even when the computer reveals its malicious nature by turning against him.
“You’re allowed to swear when you’ve been stuck in a traffic jam for an hour,” replies Mike, in an uncharacteristically supportive moment.
I wasn’t even swearing at the traffic. I was swearing at a former colleague from Radio Devon, whose traffic news had put the snaking queue of A38 traffic fourth in the running order of motoring snarl-ups.
In short, I was not happy on the way home from our hour-long trip to the A38 sliproad and back, and I made my feelings clear to my sitting-duck former colleague.
The children were listening, as always.
“Why were you so rude to that person on the phone?” asks Ben.
“I know him,” I explain, “I used to work with him at Radio Devon.”
“I wish you still worked there,” he says.
“Why?” I ask, assuming it’s so I could have bought him a Nintendo DS, an IPod, a laptop, another weekend at Bedruthan Steps, or any one of the many things I’ve vetoed on the grounds of expense.
His reply runs counter to his public reaction to our impending move.
“Because then we wouldn’t be moving to Jersey.”
Silence while I think about what to say.
“Don’t you want to go to Jersey?”
“We-ell, I am quite excited about it…”
He doesn’t say –
but I’ll lose all my friends, the only home I remember, everything and everyone I know, my entire life, the universe and everything
So I choose to hear only the “excited” comment.
“It will be exciting,” I try to reassure him, “and I’m sure you’ll soon make some friends.”
But I feel my PR campaign has hit a granite wall.
Are they both pretending to be positive to save us worrying? Surely they’re too young to bother with all that subterfuge.