My five year old son, the Engineer, is very good at making friends. So when he started telling me about his new friend Cap a few weeks ago, I didn’t think much of it. Then we found out that Cap was living with his mum and her partner, and another couple, just over the road. And the Engineer started talking about wanting Cap to come over to play.
So Cap came to visit us one afternoon after school. The two of them had a very happy time, playing out in our roomy garden. Cap’s house doesn’t really have a garden to speak of, and the small yard there is home to two Staffies. The two boys got on so well. The Engineer started talking about Cap as his ‘best friend’.
Lots of fun with Cap and his family ensued over the following weeks – a trip to the park, a big Sunday barbecue and happy school runs back and forth with chasing and squealing, as little boys love so much. Cap’s mum and her other half joined us at my school parent’s coffee morning. All seemed happy and stable. Cap’s mum told me how contented he was and how he was benefitting from going to school and how much he was loving it.
Then, just before half term, I heard that there were some housing problems and that Cap and his family were having to move out. Some parishioners started looking for suitable housing for them. I spoke to Cap’s mum in the street early in half term week – she looked sad and worried but said they were looking for somewhere new to live. ‘You can always stop with us for a bit if you need to’ I told her, but she said they had some new friends down the road who’d said they could stay with them.
That was the last time I saw her. Her housemate came over to the Vicarage on Thursday and asked if we’d seen her. She, Cap and her partner had disappeared. And hadn’t paid the rent. And now someone else has told us that they’ve moved to Wales.
I’m glad I knew before school started back. I was able to tell the Engineer. He was amazingly philosophical about it:
Cap is still my friend. And I have lots of other friends.
But still I’m sad for my son, losing a friend he was getting on with so well. But I’m more sad for Cap, who’s moved away from a school where he was happy and beginning to feel settled. I’m sad for his mum & her partner, both barely out of their teens, and both carrying a whole lot of baggage that can’t simply be shed by moving towns.