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Prole1: I don’t really want to wear this top.

It’s a black top with the word ‘conflict’ in graffiti letters across the left shoulder and arm.
I find it almost indistinguishable from his other tops, except that it comes (second hand) from ‘Next’ and there fore has an undeniable air of quality that my ‘George’ purchases do not.
He does look really good in it.

The rule is that he does not have to wear anything he does not want to.
He just has to give me a reason.

Prole1: Can I wear my shirt instead? The one with the buttons? Not this one?

Me: Oh. Why not?

Prole1: I don’t really like drawing attention to myself.

Me: Really?

Prole1: Yes. I don’t like drawing attention to myself.

Me: Like the time you fell off the stage during the Nativity Play?

Prole1: No. I mean no, not like that but no I didn’t like that either.

Me: Or the time you read out that stuff in front of a thousand people?

Prole1: No. It’s different.

Me: Or the time you went on telly for Children in need?

Prole1: No.

Me: Or that time you DJ’d at that wedding and all those men with no tops on were dancing on the stage and they jumped up and down so much they unplugged your mixing desk? Like that?

Prole1: Dad! Be serious.

Me: Ok. What sort of drawing attention to yourself were you thinking of?

Prole1: Well I don’t like people thinking I am something I am not.

Me: Like what?

Prole1: Like something I am not, you know.

Me: Ok, but how does that top make you something you are not?

Prole1: Well people might see me walking down the street and think I am one of the cool kids.

Me: Which cool kids?

Prole1: The cool kids from school.

Me: Oh, I see.

Those cool kids. I felt like I was lifting up a rock and looking underneath. It probably was not going to be pretty.

Me: What do the cool kids do? At school?

Prole1: Well, they like…they…they like mucking about and playing computer games and sitting inside and…and…not doing anything.

Me: And you are not like that?

Prole1: No, I like working and going outside and doing as I am told and working hard.

I looked down at him with his glasses and his squint.
Scruffy hair, with his serious frown and his wonky teeth.

Prole1: And I like chess.

Me: Yes. Chess. Are cool kids…are they cool? Do you want to be one of the cool kids?

I know he is brilliant and can do whatever he wants to.

Prole1: No. I think they are cool but they don’t like doing the things I like doing. Some of them are my friends but…I just don’t want to wear that top really.

Right now I had to respect that he wanted to wear what he wanted to wear.

Me: Oi!

Prole2: What?

Me: You have a new top.

Prole2: Brill…eee…ant!

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