For the purposes of this post, all kids names are fictional. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental, albeit blindingly obvious to those who know them so I should probably stop right now, but …
I have a confession to make.
I’m already judging Sonny and Luca’s friends at school. Worse still, I’m judging their parents too.
I’m not proud.
When I say judging, I’m not stood in the playground holding up scorecards, that’d be the actions of a crazy person.
No, I’m keeping a journal of names and numbers so if asked I can give an honest opinion. I’m not really. There is no journal. There’s not!
I know I shouldn’t do it. I mean, god help my boys if other parents are doing the same.
Their dad is the weird dishevelled bloke who looks like he’s over achieved just by getting his kids to school, and who has a habit of making wholly inappropriate comments to people he’s just met.
It’s not a conscious decision to influence who they befriend. I try really hard not to.
Unfortunately I sold my subconscious soul a long time ago, and it’s he who controls the tone of our conversations.
“We like Jack don’t we?”
(You WILL like Jack, his dad’s a TV Producer and I have delusions of one day writing an award-winning sitcom!)
“William’s nice isn’t he.”
(His mum’s a journalist don’t you know, and one day she might be looking for a dad blogger.)
“Daniel seems like a nice lad.”
(How cool is his dad! Have you seen his shoes? He also has a beard that falls on the right side of fashionable, unlike mine that falls on the wrong side of sleeping rough.)
“Do you play with Craig much?”
(Oh c’mon, really? His mum drinks vodka outside Aldi whilst shouting abuse at pigeons!)
You see, I can’t help myself. Innocent chatter with ulterior undertones.
To be fair to the boys they seem to be doing a good enough job on their own.
Luca happily tells me which kids in his class he doesn’t like because they’re naughty. In front of their parents. Why does he keep doing that?
Sonny’s settled with a group of friends who all seem really lovely. The loud, brash, and frankly annoying kids he played with in the early days barely get a mention any more.
I suppose I put such an importance on school friendship because I’ve been
cursed blessed with a great group of mates myself. Some who I’ve known since not much older than Sonny and Luca.
There’s eight of us altogether, plus partners and the subsequent slew of children. (I’m not sure what the collective noun for children is. A headache?)
The five of us (blokes) met in Primary School over thirty years ago. The girls likewise.
The two groups came together in the park at fourteen over a bottle of Peach Concorde. We’ve remained friends ever since.
We’ve shared birthdays, holidays, and weddings.
We’ve been best men, grief counsellors, and Godparents.
Supported Ridiculed each other through divorce, mental illness, and … hang one, nope, they were both mine.
We’ve laughed, cried, and laughed at those crying; and not always behind their backs.
We now live all over the country; from Newcastle to London, Manchester to Lincoln, and yet we still get together at every excuse.
Last week it was a surprise 40th; held in the same pub we celebrated our 18th’s and 21st’s.
There’s a bond that runs through us all like the proverbial stick of rock; if that rock was made out of sarcasm and the belittling of each others achievements.
It’s strange to watch Sonny and Luca running around the playground, knowing that some of their friends could also be with them for life. Shaping their personalities and sharing their dreams.
Or like me, approaching forty and already fearing they’ll be the first of the group to be put out to pasture in an old people’s home.
Knowing there’ll be a knock on the window, and outside will be the other seven, pointing their walking sticks and mocking me until my last breath.
I really hope I’m not the first. I have a string of jokes ready for whoever it is and I’d hate for them to go to waste.