We had promised the boys new watches if they came home with good end-of-year school reports. So when they both bounded in to the house with their mum late on Friday afternoon with beaming smiles, I knew the news was good.
From the enthusiastic way they waved their new watches at me – digital for Isaac, analogue for Toby – you could have been forgiven for thinking they had just received a pair of Rolexes or Tag Heuers, rather than cheap £10 kids’ watches from Argos.
But it’s not the cost of their watches that matters so much as the value and meaning they hold. They represent milestones, symbols of a year of strong academic achievement.
When you cast your eye over your boys’ reports and they are full of statements such as “his use of language is beautiful” and “impressed by his imaginative choice of adjectives and adverbs”, it’s hard not to beam with pride yourself.
Of course, their reports weren’t perfect. In particular, Toby’s teacher flagged up his occasional motivational issues and his tendency to be lackadaisical when things don’t interest him. But these are minor blemishes – and nothing we weren’t already aware of – that do not tarnish their achievements.
The truth is I’m just as proud of them as they are of their watches.