You should teach your children to be tough

SHE climbs into my bed early one morning, blue eyes duller than usual.

“I don’t want to go to school today,” she says quietly.

“Why darling? You love school.”

“I don’t want to watch the other kids get awards. I’ve been at school five years now and I’ve never got an award. Five kids get an award every year. Five times five equals 25 and there’s 28 in our class so I should have got one by now.”

Blimey, my kid should have a Bledisloe-sized trophy for mathematical reasoning alone. I smile at her across the pillow but my heart clenches because, as any parent will attest, their unhappiness is also yours.

Instinctively, I want to make it better. To tell her how fabulous she is and how it’s a bollocksy system anyway that favours the high-achievers and the strugglers, but not the kids in between. I want to tell her that she’s made me laugh harder than anyone on the planet and that her friends adore her and that no kid who can pull off a cockney accent and nominates “gobsmacked” as her favourite word is going to go through life unnoticed.

But it’s not my job to apply Band-Aids to her unhappiness; it’s my job just to acknowledge it.

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