Every parent, from time to time (or most times) will wonder whether they’re doing a good job; but every now and then something happens which makes you think you must be doing at least something right.
We don’t give our eldest son, Isaac, pocket money yet. It’s a combination of not thinking he needs it right now (he’s only six, after all) and wanting to make sure he learns the value of money, that he has to earn it through good behaviour, chores, that kind of thing. Also, he’s not tall enough yet to reach the roof of my car to clean it, so until he does, it’s no cash for you, child. No-one likes a half-washed car.
And so, when he does earn a pound or two here and there, he keeps it safely in the zip compartment of a Toy Story wallet, which gets shoved firmly into his coat pocket. Most days, the compartment is empty: the last time he took money out was to pay for a ride at a funfair. Watching him dig the wallet eagerly out of his pocket and try to pull the zip with gloved fingers in excitement somehow managed to be heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time.
But Isaac’s recently been in hospital, staying overnight once or twice (the reason will, no doubt, be the subject of another post). My wife has been with him, sitting in the ward waiting for the doctors and sleeping on uncomfortable pull-out beds as machines bleep and sleep is nothing but a dream.
Because he’s been unwell, Isaac has received a few Get Well Soon cards from friends and family, which we gave him when he was back home. One of these cards contained three pound coins, taped to the inside, which he eagerly unstuck, clutching them in his hand. (He’s not learned yet that when you receive money in a card you have to pretend you’ve not noticed it and read the message first.)
For a short moment he got all excited at having received some money, his head no doubt spinning with all the sweets and magazines he could buy; but then he went a bit quiet and looked down at the coins which rested in his palm, by this time a little moist from all the happy-sweat. After a few seconds he stood up, walked over to his mum, and held out his upturned hand.
“These are for you, mummy,” he said, “for looking after me.”
How amazing is that? She refused, of course, but his small actions were worth more than any amount of money. Somehow, somewhere, we’re doing something right.