"Were you waving at the photographer, Graham?" I asked, scenting a rare example of Graham cuteness.
Graham's brown eyes were limpid as a fawn's, his voice as soft as a melted Mars.
"No," he replied gently, "I was just reaching up to scratch some part of my body."
...And with a smothered 'pop', my little dream fell to the floor...
It was another flourish in the long trail of Graham one-liners. This was the boy who told Mummy recently that his "tongue was badly singed", after taking on-board something a little hot. This was the boy who carefully made a 'dinner' out of Play-Doh then fetched his minature ride-on car from the cupboard under the stairs and dressed himself in a green body-warmer. The temperature outside was something over 30C so obviously I asked what he was doing. He was going to fetch the 'mayor' to come and share dinner with him, he replied and, what with mayors being in short supply in our house, agreed to let Daddy stand in as a substitute. He rolled up at the lounge door and swaggered in.
"Do you want me to come in the car?" His Worship enquired.
"No," came the answer, "the car's for me. You can walk down the road."
So the chauffeur travelled in comfort to the kitchen while the mayor had to hoof it on foot. Not that the driver noticed anything odd...
And this, mark you, is the boy I've got on my hands for the next SIX WEEKS!! The boy who asked me yesterday why he wasn't at pre-school. Alas, dear child, there is no more pre-school for you! Those days are gone, done with, finished, a little scrawl on the enscription of history, a tiny speck on the edifice of Time. There are new roads for you to travel now, new horizons to explore and the village shop has run low on tissues for all the weeping parents who collected their children from the pre-school gates for the last time just a few short days ago.
Actually, as well as being an over-long sentence, that's also mega over-dramatic. As Churchill told the Commons in rather different circumstances after the British victory at El-Alamein, in 1942, 'Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.' And even using that quote is a touch theatrical too. Graham has left pre-school, the beginning of his scholar's trail; let me mark it, recall those days with gratitude and remind myself that it was the same day on which he first rode a bike without stabilisers. It is a poignant moment but I was cheated by the parents; expecting buckets of tears I saw nary a drop. Perhaps we are all more practical than we realise. Perhaps we were just too busy trying to work out ways of filling up the hours for our hyperactive charges over the balmy (barmy?) Summer weeks.
The picture on our bookshelf is a picture of Graham's pre-school; a reminder of recent days gone by. It will remain there until, who knows? it may be supplanted by a picture of another group of children all dressed alike in school uniform. We are in the summer holiday hinterland now, betwixt and between. For the record, those were good days, but there are, I hope, many more good days to come.
And besides, Isaac hasn't even started pre-school himself yet. I can leave the Kleenex on the shelf a little while longer.