Imogen is my eight-year-old saving grace. A little odd, for our family, she is amiable, affable, easy going, forgiving, hopeful, friendly, patient and all the rest. She wanders round in her own little cloud of quiet optimism and is the reason that her brother was tested for special needs, instead of the family being tested for hereditary insanity.
Look at Lewis on his own and I would forgive you for thinking he is being dragged up by a mother who only remembers him every so often. Look at him side by side with the perpetual winner of the annual 'most likeable child' competition at school, and you see things in a different light.
To be fair I do worry that Imogen excels at nothing except being happily and unobtrusively in the background, and that her constant certificates for 'smiling' or 'caring' or other mannerisms are hastily made up by teachers who cant remember a thing about her except that she never goes against the flow.
She's not Pollyanna (thank God, I think I'd puke), but heres an example, today.
Imogen has repeatedly told us that she has after-school Art Club this term. She has been excited about it constantly for a full term, since January when they first discovered it was oversubscribed and split the children into two groups. She has been particularly emphatic about how much she is looking forward to it, on Tuesdays. It was going to be Tuesdays.
Today was to be her first day, as no school clubs reconvene on the first week back after a holiday. It was her sole topic of conversation all the way to school this morning, and........... it turns out they split the group into two HALF terms. She has walked past the teacher leading the class every day for six weeks before the Easter break and the bloody woman has never once mentioned it was Imogen's turn already.
We only found all of this out after scouring the school, thinking she had got the wrong room, when we finally went and asked the secretary.
Imogen went grey and very quiet, you could see the total heartbreak and panic on her face, the disbelief. She tried not to look at anybody at all on the way out of school.
Tears? Just one, and that only when she quietly mentioned that she wouldn't get to finish her picture, the one she had started on the first day, before they split the group; the one she had been finishing, in her head, every day for the last fourteen weeks.
So know we are going to try starting a bucket for papier mache and maybe, if I'm really unlucky, do a bit of salt dough as well. What else could I offer? How could I not offer? She's sitting there, waiting for me to finish typing, looking all renewed and hopeful.
Here we go............