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The One With Wiiilllsonnn!

September 22nd 2017

*Spoiler Alert if you haven't seen the Tom Hanks movie, Castaway*

My six-year-old son has been elected by thirty members of his class to be a school councillor. That means that thirty sweet, fresh little souls have seen fit to trust my Little Lad with their pressing concerns, their daily educational woes. The problem is, and I'm being brutally honest here, I'm not sure he's up to the task.

I mean, this is the same Little Lad that took the handbrake off our car a couple of weeks ago and gave me quite possibly the most harrowing seven seconds of my life (see the blog post, it all ended well). This is the same Little Lad who likes me to watch him poo, who will only eat breakfast shrouded in not one, but two Star Wars duvets and who walks round repeatedly asking complete strangers to autograph his butt. Now does that sound like somebody fit to lead a Year Two class into greatness?

Not only this but I think he might still be dealing with an emotional trauma which I inflicted upon him just the other night. I didn't mean to. It was all well intentioned, honest. But as he's still reeling from it, I'm not sure he should be jumping into class politics just yet.

It was a cold Friday night and having had the usual dinner-time dramatics over microscopic pieces of onion in the bolognese, I decided I'd calm matters with a family movie night. And this wouldn't be just some ordinary family movie night. Oh no. This would be an obligatory continuation in the Lads' film education course led by me. Having won them over with Back to the Future and The Truman Show, I thought it was time to splash out on Amazon Prime for something a little different. Tonight I would introduce them to . . . Castaway.

Of course, I bigged it all up before we started. I told them of the plane crash and the desert island and the making of fire and the lack of shoes and the FedEx parcels. When I described Wilson the volleyball and how he becomes Tom Hanks's only friend and means of emotional survival, both my Lads totally got it, Big Lad's relationship with his own collection of footballs being a case in point.

So despite the SIX QUID it cost me on Amazon, the movie night was going well. Little Lad had a bit of a wobble during the plane crash but once Mr Hanks was safely ashore and tinkering away with coconuts and the like, he calmed right down. Both Lads noticed there wasn't much dialogue going on so when Wilson entered the scene they were completely enamoured. Instantly there were plans of making their own Wilson out of one of their footballs and I said yes, this was fine, but no, they were not allowed to use each other's blood (urgent mental note to find red paint).

And if you've seen the film you'll know that Tom Hanks and Wilson become best buddies over the years spent on the island, which is all good. It wasn't until good old Tom has managed to sail out into the middle of the ocean with the help of the unfeasible raft, a portaloo sail and Wilson the volleyball literally at the helm, that things started to unravel. When Wilson gets knocked off by pesky waves and floats away from the unconscious Hanks, both lads gasped in horror. "No! Wilson! He has to swim to get him!"

Now I sensed the panic, the urgency in their voices, but having suffered the whole Wilson trauma myself when I first watched Castaway years ago, I knew they would soon be soothed by an ever-so happy ending. So I sat back on the sofa and allowed them to feel the emotion. I smiled. I sighed. I waited for the yelling and crying at the telly to fade away into a blissful cinematic silence.

That silence never came.

Because Little Lad . . . did . . . not . . . stop. He was shouting at the telly, he was shouting at his brother, he was shouting at me. He was shouting at the utter injustice that Wilson should be lost at sea, never again to experience the scintillating conversation of Tom Hanks. And not only was he shouting but he was also crying as if he'd lost his own entire means of survival. This howling went on throughout the rest of the movie and beyond, until he was a shivering, quivering wreck and wouldn't come out from under his Star Wars duvets. Big Lad and I just looked at each other. What were we to do?

Big Lad patted the lump under the duvets and said, "Maybe we could make our own Wilson tomorrow? You can have one of my footballs and we'll make him together."

"Noooooooo!" The lump screamed. "None of your footballs are white! Wilson was whiiitttte!"

It being way past the Lads' bedtime and me being way past the point of mindful breathing and silent affirmations, I gripped my phone and began to search on Amazon for 'plain white Wilson footballs'. And there it was. Just a short scroll down the list. The answer to my prayers.

Who'd have thought it? You can actually buy a replica Wilson for the paltry sum of £9.95. AND it's a bestseller. AND you get priority delivery at no extra cost if you're a Prime customer which of course, I surely am.

Ok, so I'm not proud of what happened next. I'm aware my actions were not up there with my most rockin' moments as a mother. And I really should warn other parents not to try this at home. But I only went and bought the feckin' ball.

So we now have a new member of our family who doesn't answer back, doesn't get in hysterics over movies and doesn't require vegetables to be expertly hidden in pasta sauces. Little Lad has calmed down and has finally accepted, I think, that Castaway is just a movie and the Tom Hanks has not, in fact, been left devoid of social interaction. Wilson now goes everywhere with us, and even gets strapped in on car journeys just in case, you know, he makes a run for it. 

Meanwhile I am left to question that particular judgement call of mine and Amazon has smugly done me out of sixteen quid without even asking me to leave my sofa. Come to think of it, Little Lad has, in a roundabout way, got the best possible result he could have done out of this situation. Perhaps he will make a good class councillor after all.

I'll let you know.

Go well,


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