We’re not all living in a material world

1st June 2018 at 00:00
When children can’t have nice things in real life, they like to have them in their imagination – as Jamie regularly shows us in class

It is our Monday morning Have I Got News for You session and, as always, Jamie’s hand is the first one up.

He is eager to tell us that over the weekend, his dad came over from the US in his helicopter and took him, his brothers, his sister and his mum to a tropical island near Cleethorpes. And they went out on a motorboat and did some scuba diving. And while they were underwater they were attacked by a shark, and it bit his leg off and his dad had to kill it with a special shark gun.

“If it bit your leg off, why have you still got two?” Tyrone demands, whereupon Jamie, failing to detect the subtle hint of scepticism in this question, goes on to explain that his dad’s best friend is a doctor and he sewed it back on. “Well, you would still need a wheelchair, wouldn’t you, Mr Eddison?” says Tyrone. “Or at least some crutches, wouldn’t you, Mr Eddison? And anyway, you can’t kill a shark with a gun because you need a harpoon, don’t you, Mr Eddison?”

Rather than debate the veracity of Jamie’s story, I take the diplomatic option. I thank him for telling us his news, and remind everyone that we don’t have much time and Aleesha is desperate to update us on the situation concerning Mrs Tibbles: she was due to undergo an operation to stop her having any more kittens. According to Aleesha, the operation is called spraying and she had to be put to sleep by the vet and have her belly shaved.

Tyrone grins and points out that he’s been shaved, too, but not his belly. His new haircut consists of a selection of intricately sculpted geometric designs that everybody agrees looks cool.

He stops grinning, however, when he learns that Jamie will be getting patterns shaved on his head, too.

And when Jamie announces that he’s got the same tablet computer as Tyrone, and the same Sony PlayStation, and that he’s also going to Florida for his holidays, Tyrone can take no more.

Acceptable fake news

Having lots of material possessions doesn’t mean someone’s a bad person. And while Tyrone may not agree with Jamie telling everyone fake news, he is prepared to hear the reason why I allow him to get away with it.

“Some people don’t have much money,” I explain. “And they can’t afford expensive toys or nice holidays. And sometimes, when children can’t have nice things in real life, they like to have them in their imagination.”

Tyrone nods his understanding, high-fives me and goes out to the playground.

At our Cycle, Scoot and Skate session the following Friday, Tyrone lets Jamie ride his new lightweight junior mountain bike with 18 gears, front and rear V brakes and 24-inch alloy wheels.

“Jamie’s bike is exactly the same,” explains Tyrone with a wink. “But it’s at the shop being repaired. He crashed it when we went mountain biking in Africa last weekend.”

I high-five him and say: “That sounds really exciting. Perhaps you can tell us about it at our next Have I Got News for You.”

Steve Eddison teaches at Arbourthorne Community Primary School in Sheffield

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