The day after Harry’s birthday party weekend – as mentioned yesterday – I took him to school and into his classroom, as I usually do.
There was much chatter between him and his mates, regarding the events of the weekend. They’d all had a great time and were still excited by it all.
As I sat on Harry’s desk, helping him with his morning challenge, there was a tugging at my coat. I turned to see one of the boys from the previous night’s party. “Harry’s dad… Harry’s dad…”, he said, still pulling at my coat.
Realising that he now had my attention, he stopped yanking at my coat and looked up at me. “Harry’s dad,” he repeated, “I’ve decided that I’m going to have my birthday party at the same place as Harry did. I’m inviting Harry and you can come too”. I think the kids had enjoyed having an adult play along with them… one that they could shoot at with impunity.
“Well, thank you”, I said, “that’s very nice of you. However, I’m sure it would be better if your dad was to go”.
He looked me in the eye and said, in a very matter-of-fact way, “I’m not allowed to see my dad. My mum and dad split up four years ago and I haven’t seen him since”.
At that point, the teacher started her ten-second countdown and so I gave Harry a kiss and left the classroom.
As I walked back to the car, I thought about what this young lad had said and then I thought about the others that Harry had invited along to his party.
There was K, who had just spoken to me. His mum was a single parent.
There was D, who’s mum was also a single parent.
There was M, whose mum and dad had split up several years before and he now lived with a single parent.
There was A and G, the twins, who live with a (single) foster parent because their father is in gaol and their mother has “issues”.
And there was L, who had been invited but couldn’t make it, because he was away visiting his dad that weekend.
Fifty percent of the kids Harry had invited, came from a single parent family!
I do hope that that particular sample group isn’t representative of the school – or indeed, the country – because that would be a pretty damning and somewhat sad statistic.