William has this school friend, let’s call him Robert.
Robert’s parents are both filthy rich, and when I say filthy rich, the father arrives in a helicopter to pick his son up from school on quite a regular basis, and the mother lives in a mahoosive Georgian property with a lake, a tennis court and about 50 acres of land. They are divorced, and both live with new partners and their step-children. Robert spends his time 50/50 between them both.
Robert comes to play at our house quite often, and I’ve always found him a really quiet, brooding sort of child, not really warmed to him if I’m honest, but Will seems to like him which is the main thing.
Anyway, I bumped into R’s mother outside school last week, passed the time of day with her as I hadn’t seen her for ages and asked her how she was. Big mistake. Huge.
She regaled me with this lengthy story about how Robert’s father has recently split up with his long-term live-in partner, which has caused Robert’s father to start drinking very heavily (a long standing problem, I believe – not entirely sure whether he should actually be flying a helicopter, bearing this in mind … ).
The whole situation has affected Robert very badly emotionally, and he’d witnessed quite a lot of unpleasantness, and seemed very traumatised. (This was borne out a couple of days after my conversation, when the boys had a sleepover at another friend’s house, but Robert was very upset during the evening, didn’t want to stay the night, and his mother picked up and took him home).
Robert’s mother then said that she was supposed to be going away with her new husband to the Far East for three weeks, leaving Robert with his father, and did I think she should go or not? Unbelievable! Even more so, bearing in mind she’s already been away for two fortnight long holidays this year (one during the entirety of the Easter Holidays) WITHOUT taking Robert with her, just with her new husband.
Just to add more pressure to this 10 year old child, the father is absolutely insistent that he pass his 11-plus exam and get into Grammar School, and he is having extra tuition three times a week in addition to school, homework etc.
I was chatting to one of the other mums at the rugby match this afternoon (Will scored a brilliant try, I was so proud of him!), and Robert’s name came up in conversation. (His parents never bother to attend a match to watch him play, despite neither of them having a job as an excuse).
The mum I was chatting to told me that several years ago, when the boys were about six, she had been on a school trip with the class to help out, and that Robert had been sitting apart from the other children at lunchtime. This mum had gone over to see if he was okay, and he was quietly crying, clutching a photograph of his parents on their wedding day.
It actually brought tears to my eyes – it was one of the saddest things I’ve ever heard.
And these are well-educated, well-off people, with the luxury of plenty of time on their hands and the ability to make the most wonderful life for their only son. Are they really so blind that they cannot see what THEIR ACTIONS are doing to him?