Kid A and I had our first post-Mummy dust up last night.
For reasons best known to her, she tried to pick a fight with me about leaving lights on unnecessarily. (Like all eight-year-olds, she’s convinced that we’re all just one unrecycled cereal packet away from environmental Armageddon. Ha! Wait till she hears about where we’re going…)
There’s so much going on right now and she wants to take a stand on light bulbs? I knew that wasn’t really the problem, so I tried to find out what was really upsetting her, beyond the obvious of ‘my mum moved to the desert three days ago, and you’ve already given us the same supper for two nights running’.
(Admittedly, this is true, but as I’d spent half of Sunday afternoon making the effing thing, there was no way I wasn’t going to milk it for all it was worth).
But no, it turns out that she’s worried about never seeing her friends again, and not making new ones in Doha, or her new classroom being unfamiliar, or crying in class at the end of term, and what if some boys laugh at her if she cries in class..?
All valid worries, and ones we all have a variant of running through our heads – even the grown-ups who’re supposed to know everything.
Especially the grown-ups.
I’m doing the English thing of channelling my anxieties, doubts and fears into a barrage of sarcastic blog posts. But make no mistake, these things are huge when you’re eight. Massive. Especially if the last time you moved house you were still at nursery. She’s without a frame of reference.
And then I remembered the email I’d received this week from my old mate Tim. He was my best friend when I was her age. When I moved away from our village in the mid-80s, that was very much that. Back then, ‘social media’ meant me calling his landline from my landline. Who could have foreseen where technology would take us?
So I told Kid A my version of what she was going through…
The highlight of my week when I was eight was when Tim would bring in to school his freshly-delivered 2000AD and we
would pore over the latest adventures of Judge Dredd and its heady mix of sci-fi and satire. But I didn’t just love it because it opened my young eyes and mind to worlds and possibilities far beyond ultra-rural Suffolk. No, I was into it because my best friend was into it.
He could have been into macramé, budgie wrangling or pro-celebrity underage ice snooker – it wouldn’t have mattered.
But through that shared connection there was a friendship and a bond, one I missed massively when I moved away. A friendship I wondered if I would find a replacement for.
But one that I did.
I told her that I knew how much it meant to her now, because I knew how much it had meant to me then.
And we talked about what we should do the next time we felt sad but couldn’t express why, and then we agreed not to fight about light switches again, and then she went to bed.
Just another Tuesday, basically.