“What took you so long,” I asked my son when he finally arrived at the car.
Me and four of his siblings had been doing laps of the pick up area for ten minutes, eventually resorting to spamming his phone with messages and finally calling.
Well, Miss16 called him. I was busy mentally running through a series of punishments wondering which would annoy him the most.
In the end I didn’t make him clean the loo or get his hands dirty pulling up weeds because his little sister spotted him running towards the car as I took off for another lap. Even though he had the inside lane I managed to stay ahead of him for almost a full circuit.
He slid the door open, sliding into a seat apologising and, more importantly, puffing heavily.
This cheered me up immensely so I decided to let him off.
“I was talking to a teacher,” he said. “She’s trying to convince me to do cyber english.”
“That’s a great idea,” I enthused. “Then you’ll be able to translate for the Cybermen on Dr Who.”
Master15 never resembles me more than when he’s looking particularly pleased with himself.
“I told her you’d say that.”
That I’d bring up Dr Who?
Master15 repeated the discussion he’d had with his teacher, and when we pulled into the drive there was a mad scramble for the house which stopped the moment we entered the kitchen where Tracey was busying herself with the kettle.
How she didn’t figure out there was a game afoot when we were all suddenly lounging about the fridge and pantry trying to look casual is anyone’s guess.
“So Mum,” Master15 began. “The teacher wants me to do Cyber English next year.”
Tracey almost managed to appear interested as she took advantage of having the entire household in the one room to sweetly snap things like ‘where are your lunchboxes?’, ‘I want showers started before dinner tonight’ and ‘who took my charging cord this morning?’
As people answered or grunted we all willed Master15 to push on.
Through the chatter he explained how Cyber English is two lessons instead of four because you’re set work to crack on with independently but he wasn’t sure he should do it because he wasn’t especially good at being self disciplined with stuff – the exception being focusing long enough to master anything with a choice of weapons and kick ass backing track.
When Tracey still didn’t seem to glimpse the hook he was baiting her with I decided to help him by dipping my toe in the water.
“Learning to study independently is a life skill you want. You’ll need that at university,” I said. “Once you know you have a problem you have two choices. You can either work around it or-“
“…blame other people,” Tracey joked.
I was going to say work on improving it, but different strokes and all that.
The kids laughed and it seemed to finally focus my wife. She stopped trying to think up questions for the family like ‘which one of you is using two towels when they have a shower?’ and gave our boy her full attention.
“So you don’t know whether you can trust yourself with an unsupervised work load?” she asked, and he nodded. Behind her we all leaned in. It must have taken all of Master15’s will power to not give the game away by glancing over his Mum’s shoulder at our mischievously gleeful faces. “Well,” she went on after a pause to consider, “what is your heart telling you?”
The kitchen erupted into cheers and a series of high-fives.
Jolting upright during all this wild outburst of celebratory congratulations Tracey swung around full circle twice, genuinely stumped at all the fanfare. More than that, she was wearing a cute, sheepish little grin I’ve actually never seen her use before. She understood she was the butt of some joke but had no idea what that would be.
I’d have been more surprised than she was if she’d been able to work out the lead up to the punchline she’d provided.
Master15 filled her in.
“My teacher suggested I chat with my parents about the Cyber English class and I said there’s no point,” he explained. “Dad will make fun of it and Mum will tell me to do whatever I want.”
Raising a family on little more than laughs