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Children, huh? They are the perfect antidote to any attempt to get above your station or even to pat yourself on the back.
The other day I went to a meeting and I got a thank-you note, saying how much my contribution was valued. I read it out to daughter one.
“It’s just a template, mum,” she said. “I bet they send it to everyone.” She had been feeling a bit grouchy last week 1) because she had to get up early for work experience and 2) because she didn’t get my old phone when I upgrade-downgraded to a newer, but cheaper phone. Instead her younger sister got the phone and she didn’t speak for a day due to the injustice of the situation.
Apparently, I had promised it to her and she needs it for iTunes or something. I told her that there was no use harping on about the evils of materialism while allowing herself to be in thrall to Apple for life. She needed to explore other options and liberate herself.
Anyway, I told both her and daughter two that they might get it because it meant they both had to work hard to gain my favour.
When she refused to speak for at least 24 hours after I made my final decision, I told her that she needed to get a grip, that her sister was just as much entitled to the phone as she was [more so because daughter one is usually first in line for new stuff] and that she needed to stop treating her like a second-class citizen.
No response. I think she was semi-plugged into her phone in any event. However, around two days later when she finally spoke she remarked, and I quote: “I believe in equality and justice. From now on I will treat everyone like a second class citizen. Starting with you.”
I’m not sure if daughter one has enjoyed work experience or not. I asked her what was the main thing she had learnt. “That I never want to work in an office,” she said.
“I am going to put all my efforts into my band from now on in.” I’m not sure if this is a positive or negative outcome. She attended an away day during the work experience and was asked to comment on what she had learnt about the time.
“I told them that I had learnt that if I had to work in an office I would ensure it was open plan,” she said. “I was trying to be positive,” she added when I raised an eyebrow.
In fact, I think she will find she learnt quite a lot and she got to do some interesting things, like designing a poster and going to a talk on women leaders in Africa. And she managed to create some mega-spreadsheet thing which is something everyone over 35, including me, is very impressed by.
Plus when I was in the office with her she helped save a picture for me because I couldn’t figure out how to do it. she also got to see round various museums and walked past Loveday, who apparently single-handedly won University Challenge for Cambridge. “It’s Loveday,” she whispered to me as if it was Harry Styles himself.
In any event, we have survived the two weeks of work experience which has involved negotiating the early morning traffic to the station twice daily and a rather early start on Thursday for the away day when daughter one had to catch the 7am train.
It didn’t help that I had stayed up till around 1am on Monday and Tuesday trying to catch up on work because I had taken time out to be inspiring, that daughter three was up late one night worrying that I would forget apple and raspberry juice in the Tesco order and that daughter two woke me up an hour early on Friday having set her alarm – on my old phone – wrongly.
But we got there in the end and now it’s all plain – fingers crossed – sailing through sports days, fetes and exams until the holidays.