The boy has just set off on a week-long residential trip with his school to a resort called, Hi-Adventure. Unfortunately, his teacher has classed him as a role-model, which means he’s been put in a room with two kids who need role-models; two kids who aren’t allowed matches.
To make matters worse, he has just turned eleven, which is an age of sweeping biological changes, when his usual interests are supplanted by alien urges. It’s unfortunate that this trip has coincided with his blossoming interest in Loom Bands.
As he walked out of the front door, both arms mummified in rubber jewellery, I stood by as he dragged the big family suitcase, which is still peppered with airport check-in labels, over the threshold. At this pivotal moment, which is clearly a symbolic fleeing of the nest, he looked like Liberace setting off on a world tour.
The jewellery is a hangover from his audacious attempt to secure a girlfriend at the summer fair. The girl in question was working on the loom band stall with her boyfriend, who ordered my offspring to cease buying looms from ‘his’ girl. My son slinked away and then a few heartbeats later, he slinked back and bought another. This chest-beating at a jewellery stand was my son’s equivalent of the drag race in Grease, but with more of an arts and crafts edge to it.
Five minutes later he tugged at my sleeve, demanding more cash for rubber jewellery; it was a proud moment. I thrust the coins in to his palm and told him that he could outstay his welcome at the craft stall with my blessing.
This was the last straw for the love-rival, and he told my son that their friendship was history. All three of them are now sharing dormitory space with each other for the next five days alongside the Inferno Twins.
Through the miracle of modern technology I can check the twists and turns of my child’s tangled love life in real time, because the activity centre uploads photos to their website on a daily basis.
Early evening finds my wife and I hunched over the ipad viewing the latest upload, like witches peering into a cauldron waiting for the vapours to make sense.
The first post revealed a picture of all the kids grouped together. They were sat on the grass beside a dramatic cliff face, wearing brightly-coloured waterproofs.
“There’s a big group of them and he’s stood on his own,” observed my wife and then looked to me for reassurance. “And just look at that,” she said, pointing at my son and his rival, “you can just see the tension between them.”
“They’re just eating sandwiches,” I said.
Still hungry for more sinister shots of love-rivals opening Tupperware, she clicked again, another picture popped up. We both looked for obvious signs of problems. I broke the silence.
“Do you think he should be going down a zip wire wearing that many Loom Bands?”