When I was really young I was watching a Sports Relief-style programme with my parents. On the screen, a wizened old man was carrying a huge bundle of sticks on his back through driving rain. He was almost bent double under the weight, each step a huge effort.
“Look at him,” I said in my childish impulsive wisdom, “he’s like that little pig who built a house made of sticks.”
(I should stress, I was quite young, like single-figures, and I thought I was being funny. Some things never change.)
My parents kicked me out of the room for being so insensitive, and even now I vividly remember sitting on the linoleum floor of the kitchen crying big fat child-tears because a) I was in trouble and b) I felt so damn awful and sorry for old stick-carrying guy.
Today, on the way home from school, Isaac was telling me about a video they’d watched.
“There was this boy, and it took him an hour to walk to work, and he worked in the mines for eight hours, and whatever he made he sold for just £1.50, and he didn’t have any food.”
After years of trying to get him to understand just how fortunate he is to live in a first-world country, I feel like he’s finally beginning to get the message.
“So you see how lucky you are then, that you can just go home,” I say.
There’s a pause. “Yeah, but he still got to go home.”
The familiar sinking feeling is back. “But he had been working for eight hours in a mine.”
“Sometimes the mines collapsed.”
“Exactly! How awful is that? So just think how lucky you are that you can go home and play on your iPod.”
“So…can I get a new game on my iPod?”
“What’s for tea?”
Wrinkled nose. “I don’t like fishfingers.”
“Think about the poor boy in the video you saw. He didn’t have any food.”
“He can have my fishfingers.”
…Ever feel like you’re fighting a losing battle?