Picture the scene. The child comes home from school, way more excited than usual and announces he has "a surprise." At this point, various things are tumbling around in your mind. Could it be an unknown artistic "creation" where you must nod, smile, repeat, whilst trying to guess what the hell it is? Or could it be another wonderful literary tome, like the unforgettable time he brought home "The Encyclopaedia of snakes" not realising (or more likely, totally realising) Mummy's utter stone cold fear of the slimy little blighters.
No. Neither of these. Instead, I am greeted by the smiling face of Tommy.
The class toy.
Not a real animal, thank the lord, (do they still even do that??) but the furry class mascot. Parents everywhere reading this will be nodding in acknowledgment, knowing exactly what this entails. If this is a new concept to you however, allow me to elaborate.
The class has a toy and an accompanying book, the child is then chosen, (at random? God knows) to take said toy home at the weekend and write about its adventures during their stay.
This is the fun part. Depending on when you receive the toy, you may find the little fella has been on more holidays than Judith Chalmers herself (there's your eighties reference for this week my friends..no, no, you're welcome....) One we welcomed into the home a couple of years ago had photographs of it living its absolute best life in ski resorts, on sun kissed beaches and, my personal favourite, at the top of Table Mountain. I'm not even joking.
At this point you start to curse the fact the thing has decided to pay you a visit either on the weekend you have a) nothing exciting planned whatsoever or b) you won't even see your child this weekend as he's off to the Grandparents and while this is a monumental event in your life and you should be rightly excited at the prospect of a weekend away, you start to worry just what your child may feel is acceptable to tell Grandma what activities are permissible with the toy. ("No Grandma, it's fine! We can eat as many biscuits as we want, we can take pictures!" "No, the teacher said we need to go to the toy shop and anyway, Tommy wants to...")
But we had neither of these issues this time because guess what. It arrived the day before they broke up for the Christmas holidays. Yep, we had two whole weeks to fill the book with the amazing things we would be getting up to over Christmas and New Year. The possibilities were endless, right?
In theory, absolutely. It began well. Tommy "helped" decorate the Christmas cake. (for "helped" read "had the obligatory photograph taken before both Tommy and child got bored and buggered off".) Christmas Eve and indeed the day itself arrived, both affording wonderful photographic opportunities. If Mummy had remembered to take any sodding photos at all that is. Yep, totally forgot. A hurriedly remembered photo op of Tommy and child next to a pile of presents a couple of days later "kind of" fixed things. An afternoon at the Pantomine! Quick, take a pic! Out for tea? Get a pic! Doing the ironing? Tommy, get in there and look willing!
Then Mummy's thoughts turn dark. An "alternative" diary perhaps? Tommy next to an empty gin bottle, snoozing in front of the TV with an empty box of Ferrero Rocher. (My my, the ambassador truly spoilt him.) A bit like Elf on the Shelf, getting up to mischief purely for Mummy's own enjoyment. If only we had a girl child in the house so Tommy could have a night in with the Barbie dolls, snorting lines of self raising flour from the kitchen worktop. Too much?? Spoilsports...
Safe to say, the book has been completed, a few lines next to each (wholly suitable) picture have been written and Tommy is ready to move on to the next house. I am secretly high fiving myself that he didn't get lost, he didn't get maimed and my other dark thought of "What if he's bugged??" needs to stay firmly in the realm of the Eighties detective shows.
Thanks for coming Tommy, it's been a blast.