Little girl in the Boy's class, she's fun: smiley and mischievous and we often walk home the same way. She laughs a lot and sometimes I pretend to be a bear – which she finds hysterically funny and her, slightly older, sister finds funny in an eye-rolling oh-my-I-am-nearly-eight-way. Usually their mum or Grandma picks them up but sometimes it's her Daddy, he always looks a bit fierce, a bit hassled.
He died at the weekend.
I don't know what from.
Something they don't tell you when you become a parent is how you will feel about other kids. I have never particularly liked children but every kid in the boy's class feels like family, I wouldn't hesitate to go to one of them if I saw them upset or lost and I'm pretty sure any of the other parents would do the same for my kid. And I'm glad, it's a happy class.
'Now it's just their mum and her sister who live in her house,' is how the boy put it. He said it three times when he told us. As if he was trying on this concept and moving the intonation about until it felt right (it never will).
I never spoke to their Dad, he didn't really invite conversation, seemed in a hurry and I'd like to tell some story about how he always smiled when he saw his girls. But I never saw that, cos when he picked up his girls it was them you noticed, the sudden grin – 'Daddy!' A flurry of bags and coats and fluttering, brightly coloured, paper.
That's gone now.
In the mornings when I drop the boy off this girl always has a smile for me, most of the kids do - in that way kids have I've been put into the 'safe and fun' bracket - she smiled at me as if nothing had happened. As if this weekend wasn't a fracture point in her life, a crack that will run through the rest of her existence. I sort of wanted to sweep her up, tell her everything would be alright.
Of course, I didn't. It would be hugely inappropriate for a start, and it would be a lie, it won't be alright, it may fade but it will not – ever – be “alright”
More than that though, this little girl has had a huge part of her life come tumbling down and until you have a kid you don't realise how important stability is to children. The more upset a kid has in one part of their life the more important it is that the rest is rock solid. So I will pretend I am not heartsick for her and continue to smile when I see her. I will hug my boy, hard.
And sometimes I will pretend to be a bear.