Dot writes: Hugh is now old enough to be snared by adverts, and his most-requested and favourite birthday present was a game called Shark Chase which he had seen repeatedly touted on the telly. However, he is still young enough to be engagingly excited about cheap and simple things. He was very pleased indeed with a badge that came on one of his birthday cards: it had a picture of a tractor and the legend “4 today”. He proudly wore it to school to show everyone.
In the afternoon, as it was a rainy day and there were men working on the boiler, we took the children to the Sealife Centre in Bray. It was a successful visit on the whole, but after the customary boisterous bounce in the ball-pool at the end the badge was found to be missing. Hugh was not happy. He insisted that we retrace our steps all the way through the centre, but the badge was not to be found. Eventually it was brought home to him that it had probably fallen off in the ball-pool and we weren’t going to get it back.
“My birthday is cancelled!” he exclaimed tragically.
No no, we soothed – he’d had his presents; and there was the cake (with a dinosaur on it, thanks to late night maternal artistry using jelly sweets); and the children at school had sang happy birthday; and he’d had fun looking at the fish.
There was a brooding silence. Then, after a while, a small voice was heard to say, “Bye-bye, badge.” And then, “my badge is gone.” And after that he didn’t mention it again.
On the way to Sunday School last Sunday, I told the children that we were going to start preparing for the Christmas service, probably by learning some Christmas songs.
Hugh: “Like When Santa Got Stuck in the Chimney?”
Me: “Well, I think the songs will probably be about Jesus.”
Me: “At church Christmas is more about Jesus than Santa.”
Hugh: “But Jesus is only a story. Santa is real!”
Oh dear. Ken (the atheist) laughed like a drain when he heard.