This weekend I was allowed to take my eight-year-old godson, Toby, out for the day. He is a great kid but we had never had to survive one another’s company without the help of some proper adult supervision. Desperate to make him love me, I decided that I would let him have whatever he wanted. My wallet and my heart were open to him, and he soon realised it.
The key thing I wanted to teach Toby, was that being the eldest sibling can sometimes be hard. I’m the eldest of three. He’s the eldest of three. He’s a voracious reader and a brilliant wit and a very creative swearer. This week I heard him call his dad a “bloomin’ stupid fuck”. He might be a secret genius, and I’m me. We have a lot of stuff in common.
Jaz and I took him bowling, where he almost took us down in the first game. I bought him a Coke Zero and let him have some Pringles out of the machine in the hopes he would look after me in my old age.
We had a second game and with just four points in it, I decided to do the noble thing and throw the game. I chucked my ball at the barriers (put up for him). The ball stopped halfway down the gutter. I then chucked a ball down the other gutter. It got stuck against the barrier. I had to tell the bored-looking man at the counter what I had done so he could roll his eyes and release said balls.
I then treated Toby to lunch.
He asked for a burger and chips and beans. He lined up all the sauces along the table and complained that it was taking too long for his food after eight minutes. He questioned why we would ever be vegetarian and what was in a vegetarian burger. He asked if we could go to the soft play centre on the other side of town. I told him that as long as he was happy to change my catheter when I was elderly then I would take him. He didn’t understand and agreed which I’m fairly sure is a verbal contract.
He ate most of his food and then asked if we could go, even though I wasn’t done eating, and I would be damned before I left food.
We went to the soft play. He insisted I go in with him to play Hide and Seek. I pretended not to have the best time in front of the other parents but gave my fair share of boots in the back to kids in the ball pit. I bought two Ribenas and some sweets. Then he asked how I felt about spending more money.
I told him I didn’t feel great about it. I still had a week until payday and at some stage during that time I assumed I would need to buy some food.
Instead we went for the park and raced around the climbing frames. I let him push me on the swing until he slipped underneath me and I nearly knocked him out in the process. Then I took him home.
Despite the ketchup stain on the front of his shorts and the mixture of bark and puddle on the back of his shorts, he was relatively unharmed by a day out with Uncle Paul. That’s the best that any of us can hope for.