Emily and Phoebe

Friday, January 15, 2010


We are walking to school and find ourselves being observed by a stern looking old woman dressed in black. I give her a friendly smile and she shakes her head sorrowfully. "Poor little thing!" she mumbles. I stop and look around to see who she could be talking about. "The little one!" she admonishes me, indicating Phoebe.

"Um, yes, probably," I venture. I'm not sure what she's getting at, but by the way she's fixing me with her glittering eye I suspect this could be a long and tedious encounter. Since the school bell is about to ring, I think it's best if we're on our way.

"It's a shame! A crying shame!" she yodels.

"Well, yes, perhaps," I offer, perplexed.

"Her bag! Look how heavy it is."

"Ah, right, yes. With you now. Yes, you're right. It is heavy. Very heavy. It's the books, you see."

"Books!" she exclaims scornfully.

"Yes, books. You know, for the lessons. We're going to school." For emphasis, I flap my hand in the direction of the large building with the word SCHOOL written on the outside. I really think she might be a few pence short of the full shilling.

"She shouldn't be carrying it!" she thunders. This is getting alarming now. I decide the best policy is to agree with her and hotfoot it out of there.

"You're quite right, of course. She's much too little and it's a big heavy bag, but it's the same for all the children, you know. Τι να κάνουμέ; Anyway, we have to go now. Nice meeting you!" I give her a cheery wave and hurriedly steer the girls off in the direction of the school. I look over my shoulder and see her still glaring at us.

"Well that was a bit odd!" I say. "Still, she was quite right to be concerned, I suppose. Phoebe's bag really is too heavy for her. It must be at least five kilos!"

"Dad," Emily says gently, "she meant that you should be carrying Phoebe's bag - like all the parents do for the little children!"

"Do they?" I look around and notice, it is true, quite a number of mums and dads (not to mention some quite frail looking grandparents) struggling under the weight of some very large school bags.



Blogger Saigon & Baygon Inc. said...

I know, these Greek old ladies ('γριές') can be quite stubborn and interfering.
I also know that schoolbags tend to be unbelievably heavy and it sure is hard for children to carry the weight.
But still, I couldn't disagree more with the old lady. However much you love your offspring, I think it kind of is their burden and not yours. There are a zillion other things that you can do for your children, a zillion other ways to help them, but this is about their schoolbag and how they should become responsible of tending to it (getting it ready for the following day, making sure they don't leaving at school after class etc.) and carrying it on their own. Perhaps you can carry a couple of extra books and give them to the child once you arrive at school, but not the bag itself.
Or maybe I'm totally wrong. :-)


8:22 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

I have occasionally offered to carry her bag as I see her struggling along, but it is a point of honour for her that she does it by herself, which I think is rather admirable actually!

9:14 PM  

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