When you start school the very first thing you do is make friends. If you’re very lucky (or well connected) you will have bought some with you from nursery. I’m sure there are clever theories as to how and why you choose friends but to me it seems random. My youngest came home from his first day at school and announced he’d made friends with the boy whose coat peg was below his, Charlie. It was weeks before we discovered that the new friend was actually called Edward, but no matter, they were firm friends. Jack and Edward gathered a team of like-minded boys around them and they all remain friends to this day.
Every child knows that friends in the playground are vital. They define you. They are on your side. They are willing to swap the yucky sandwich your Mum makes with theirs, (even though theirs is jam). They will play your games, make up songs with you, run about like a loony with you, pick you up if you fall over and go get someone sharpish if blood is involved. The friends you make at school is what makes those days special (or bearable – depending on your age and point of view)
Yes, you’ll tussle. Yes, they’ll pinch you if you steal their best pencil. Yes, they’ll tell on you if you use a swear word, but any conflict is soon forgotten as you go back to planning tactics to get the best toys in afternoon play.
So let’s imagine the scenario. Here you are, an excellent band of mates, pretty much since day one, and happy at school; and you announce;
“Right listen up. I’ve decided I want to be friends with everyone in this playground, so that means I can’t be friends with you lot anymore. I still want to swap my yucky sandwich with you, Tom, I still plan to come back to yours for tea occasionally Dick, and Harry you can still help me with Maths, but otherwise that’s it, I can’t play by your rules anymore. I’m more important than you, I’m top in English and I don’t like it when you let other children join in our game. I’m off to play with Year 6.”
I imagine you’d find yourself very quickly on the billy-no-mates bench (I don’t think it is called that though – I work in the secondary sector remember) with absolutely no one wanting to play with you because you’re the type that stabs his friends in the back and you can’t be trusted.
That is how Brexit makes me feel. I’m terrified that we are consigning our children to years of sitting on that bench, not able to join in because some serious bridges were burned at the end of the 2010’s. And for what? So that we could exclude people from joining our group? So we could run with the big boys (who everyone with a brain knows regard us as insignificant on our own)? So we could go and swap sandwiches with children who hadn’t tasted our Mum’s terrible cooking?
I heard Teresa May say in a speech last week, “Politics is not a game” Oh but it is Teresa, you just want to play it your way. Problem is. No one will be wanting to play with you soon.
It is our group that rules one corner of the playground, not us on our own. And we are not even considered the leader of that group (even though we like to think we are due to our “top in English” attitude and long history of being a leader in the playground). Perhaps the Brexit leaders should spend some time in schools watching playground dynamics to see how it is really done? While they are there they can do something useful, relevant, economically astute and really impactful into the next generation – sort out the bloody funding!