It was my son Felix’s birthday last week. As is the norm for a 10-year-old boy, what present to ask for became a life-changing decision he deliberated over for months leading up to the big day.
Over the course of the year he switched from asking for everything from an X-Box (the last one blew up when we had the power surge through the house. It was the one thing I was pleased to lose), to a ticket for an Arsenal match (my brother is devastated he is not a Leeds supporter) and an iPhone (another piece of extortionately expensive and poor-quality technology).
I had given him my old Nokia to use, built to last and never in need of recharging, but he refused to be seen with ‘the brick’.
Then out of the blue, the week before school broke up for the summer break, my son. He declared over dinner he would dearly love a pony for his birthday and would I please consider it ‘as this was definitely top of the list.’ I nearly choked on my new potato.
“You had one and never even bothered with her after you stopped going hunting,” I pointed out.
“And you didn’t notice she had gone until a month after I had sent her to a new home.”
“And ,last month you wanted a ferret,” Tris added.
“Why the sudden interest in getting a pony anyway?”
We both stared at him, waiting for enlightenment.
“Well it’s just that… I realised most of my friends go riding so maybe it would be a good time to get back in to it,” he said.
It sounded a perfectly feasible reason. If his friends were doing it he would be desperate to join in. A pony would be a healthier option than sitting on his backside tapping a screen while real life passed by unnoticed.
I had visions of leading him up at the pony racing or going hunting together. I could even start bringing on a few ponies… Oh the ideas were suddenly flooding in.
I was secretly hoping this latest wish might prove a bit more serious than the others. Then it occurred to me.
“So, which of your friends actually go riding then Felix?”
I couldn’t think of any.
“Well, all the girls in my year… and there’s this one girl who is really into horses, she is kind of hot. I told her I would show her the horses, so I thought it might be a good idea to start riding again.”
Tris couldn’t stop laughing.
“Oh boy, he’s got that worked out. Pony Club camp Felix….20 girls to every boy, that’s where you need to be in a few years. Learn a thing or two there you will.”
For the second time that evening my new potato nearly made a reappearance.