I knew it was going to be a difficult conversation but I steeled myself for it and ploughed on.
The walk home from school.
It is still early in the term, day two but I thought I may as well dive straight in anyway.
Sometimes it is hard for families to share.
Sometimes it is difficult to talk about the little things.
I know the Proles don’t like to talk about this particular subject but as a parent I feel I have to try.
Me: So….how was school today?
Me: How was school today?
Me: Did you have a good day today?
Me: Playing with your friends? A good day? Did you have?
Me: Did you have a nice time with your friends at school today?
Me: Ok, you know your friends?
Me: You know the time since I dropped you off at school?
Me: All the time you haven’t seen me? While you were at school?
Me: Well, did you have a nice time with your friends at school today?
Prole2: I can’t remember.
I looked back down the slope to where I had picked him up and then up the slope to the school gates.
We had not quite left the school premises and his mind was a complete blank.
Me: Did you do any playing at break time?
Me: Yes, playing. At break time. Did you do anything?
Me :What did you have for lunch?
Prole2: Roast. Mash, carrots, green thing and gravy. Meat. Meat roast. And a fruity thing. Roast.
He did his hoppy skippy run-dance-thing , lost control of his feet and fell over.
In days gone by I would stop, pick him up, dust him down, check for scrapes, bumps and bruises, give him a cuddle and a kiss and set off again.
Honestly though, if I did that every time he fell over I would never get anywhere ever.
He falls over walking across the kitchen.
These days I check to see he is still moving and trudge on.
We were in the school run trudge out of the gates.
You can stop to pick up a fallen child but it is the social equivalent of breaking wind in a lift or taking four sugars in tea.
People sort of smile and pretend they understand but you can see the distaste in the air.
The trudge moves at the slow amble speed of the push chair going uphill.
I am sympathetic to this. I have been a pushchair driver and I know the hell of a hill.
The trudge is further slowed by the pushchair drivers who stop in the gate way, right next to the lollipop man and the people with sniffy dogs on long leads and have a chat with other pushchair drivers.
I tried not to do this as a driver but I cannot, hand on heart, say I never did it.
This stuff just happens, come to peace with it.
Don’t judge me.
This buggy-dog-toddler-lollipop-man-chat-zone creates a bottle neck of misery for everyone trying to get out of school.
We negotiated this squash by way of tortuous emotional and social turmoil which included leaving another small part of my soul on the pavement and carried on with the slow amble along the pavement.
It is a Lollipop Man before you get all cross.
The Lollipop Lady is at the other gate.
I am being gender specific because he is.
Come on, get back on the pony.
Me: So…how was your day at school?
I signalled the Prole I was talking to with a slight squeeze of Prole1’s damp hand.
Here we go.
Me: How was your day at school? Good?
Prole1: Well I FINALLY got a new reading book, it has taken ages, I have been looking for a good book for a long, long time now but there was just nothing on the shelves for me.
Me: I thought you got a book to take home….
Prole1: No Dad. This is from the library. For reading in free time at school.
Me: And there have been no good books in the library?
Prole1: No dad, there are LOADS of good books in the library, I am just not allowed near them. We have to choose books of our shelves and we are not allowed any books from the..the whirly thing…the spin thing…the carousel…spinning book rack?That’s got all the books for the year above and I can tell you there are A LOT of Pirate books when I move up but you can’t get to the Harry Potter books until the year above that. I mean, I spoke to them about it, I asked the teacher in charge of the library and she said I had to choose from the shelves for our year. Actually, I tried to take out a Harry Potter book with the computer, I typed it in and asked to take it out and I had to enter my name and the computer said “We are sorry, you are not in the correct year to take out this book (exclamation mark) Pupils at this school are only allowed to take out and read books from their own shelves(exclamation mark)” so I could not take it out.
I had to take out a Secret Seven book and I sort of like the Secret Seven but they are not as good as the Famous Five, sort of…well half as…I think three…no two Secret Seven Books would make up one Famous Five book.
But of course what I really want is to read the Harry Potter books.
Me: But…you have them at home, you have read them.
Prole1: I have not read Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban for about two years.
Me: Three months.
Prole1: I have not read Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban for about three months. Anyway, I finally got a book I like.
Me: Have you asked to read other books?
Prole1: Oh yes, yes, I have asked. I have asked and asked. I spoke to the teacher in charge of the library today. I said I would like to read Harry Potter or…well a Pirate book or any book from the other shelves and she said I couldn’t. I told her about the computer. She said the computer was right and that at our school the little kids don’t read the big kids books. She said the school was allowed to give us books according to our year. I said I had read all the Harry Potter books and she said that did not matter, she told me the rules again. Little kids are not allowed to take the big kids books out of the library. It was just one of those rules.
Me: Were you ok with that?
Prole1: I said I understood completely.
Me: What did she say?
Prole1: She told me to get out of her classroom because her lessons had started.
Me: I thought you were in the library?
Prole1: We were but I followed her back to her classroom to talk about it and as we were chatting the lessons must have started I suppose. She told me rules were rules and to get out.
Me: I bet she did.
There seems to be a petty unfairness about the allocation of books at Prole1’s school but on the other hand they have to put up with Prole1 all day so it seems a fair swap.
Prole1: Maybe rules can be changed in time….
He went quiet and I decided not to pick open what ever was going on in his head.
I squeezed Prole2’s hand.
Me: Did you go to the library?