Every Bruce Forsyth fan (and I count myself amongst them, fond memories of watching idiots try to throw pots and ice cakes in 30 seconds on prime time TV in the 70s) knows the answer to that question, all together now


It is soon Prize Giving Evening  at my children’s school. All the teachers wear their university robes, which is a bit startling when you have only seen some of them in shorts all year. They get some old boy (there are not yet many old girls it being only 10 years since the school went co-ed) to present books with a plaque inside to children who have presumably shone in various areas.

We knew eldest would be there as he recently co-won the Year 6 Humphriss Prize for Music at the Music Prize day.

All three of mine took part. Eldest played the cello and clearly must have done quite well with his Tudoresque, semi quaver fest. Middlest played his violin and the piano (not at the same time) and got lovely feedback from the adjudicator but was pipped to the Year 5 prize by a wonderful flautist. Youngest banged out ‘What shall we do with the drunken Sailor’ in her pre grade piano way. I think the adjudicators words were ‘great enthusiasm’…

Then today the prize winners were awarded with their book tokens in assembly. Eldest has surpassed himself and also won the Robinson Cup for the Most Improved Sportsman and duly received 2 book tokens. Youngest won the ‘something something’ prize for best person at PE in Year 3- probably because she won the Cross Country for the Year 3 & 4 girls and also the ‘how far can you throw a rounder’s ball’ event at last week’s field sports day. And she can run up House Point Hill very fast.

And middlest won nothing. Nada. Which is fine. Unless you are middlest, sandwiched between your award winning siblings. He had some hopes for the Year 5 Science Prize as all his exams this year have been in the 90%s. But, no, clearly there are many brilliant scientists at their school.

And so here is the very fine tight rope that is parent hood in perfect relief.

I am of course pleased for eldest and youngest. Eldest works incredibly hard. He deserves that Sportsman prize as he regularly falls into bed in a state of physical exhaustion after yet another training session. He was determined to shine with that cello piece after (and maybe I am being a bit partisan here) the really harsh examiner in April provided him with barely a pass for it in his exam. It was better than that even then. Now after a few more weeks of practise we can play it in our sleep. And it showed on the day.

Youngest is a born sportswoman as I may have mentioned before. And whilst this prize may be for something she is naturally good at she does attend every sports club going and she did go out training for that cross country, including taking part in a very cold Duathlon despite being terrified. She has an amazing untaught mind set- when I asked her how she ran through her stitch during the 2k cross country she told me she merely thought about how good she would feel when she won. The rounder’s ball thing was a surprise though.

So I feel they deserve their accolades and want to tell them that. It is hard to do so without middlest in ear shot and actually he should hear it. But how to do that without middlest taking it all the wrong way. My kids cannot understand that when I praise one I am not automatically denigrating the others. That just because I say ‘Well you worked hard for that so you deserve it’ I am not saying ‘And you, you just don’t work hard and deserve nothing’.

Middlest works hard, he isn’t a natural sportsman but tries his best, he is a fabulous musician (who won over that tough examiner in his violin exam to get a merit and leads the school orchestra), he is a brilliant scientist. On this occasion though others were just that bit better.

I feel for him. I told him that in my entire school career I never won a thing. Ever. And yes it hurts. But then I turned out alright didn’t I? He looked a bit askance at this, as he thinks I am a bit mad, but I think it helped. A bit.

And yes this is life. Life is tough. Get used to it. And all such platitudes. But when he is dripping tears into his cottage pie I don’t want to say that. I want him to have a damn prize. Damn it.

Anyway by bed he had become more philosophical. He has decided he would win the prize for ‘Best at Never Winning Prizes’. I may buy him a book and put a plaque in it for him. Not sure I will use his category though… maybe he should just win a prize for being generally wonderful…because he is.