guppy_sandhu: (unbreakmyheart)
[personal profile] guppy_sandhu
It was when Guppy had just got home from work that he got an inkling he was in trouble. Fran is loading the dishwasher with what appears to be some force. He circumvented it by heading straight for Gil, who is in the play pen in the living room.

"Hey Gil." he scoops up the smiling infant.

"Dada!" Gil makes grabby hands at his face.

Guppy bounces him, singing the teapot song quietly, as he goes into the kitchen. Fran won't yell at him in front of Gil...

"Hey." he says. "What's up?"

"Hey." Fran says, a little tersely. "This is up." She thrusts a gold certificate at him. "That maths contest you let Fry enter."

"Well that's great, isn't it?" Guppy says, trying to see the catch.

"Do you know what he said when he came home today?" Fran demands. "He put it on the table, and he said 'Rosie Sinclair beat me' and walked off."

"Who's Rosie Sinclair?" Guppy asks.

"A kid in year six." Fran says. She's not yelling, but she looks like she wants to. "Is this how it's going to be? Competing against kids three years older than him and then being disappointed with a fantastic result? And now he's upstairs cramming for the regional round, in just two weeks, which he'll be in for an even bigger disappointment because you can bet all the kids there will have been coached through the nose."

"Well could we relax our rule on training him just for once? If it's only for two weeks?" Guppy asks, rocking Gil who is looking a little nervous.

"What, so if Rosie Sinclair does three hours a day, we'll do four? What if Xiao Wang's doing five hours a day, shall we get him to do six? I don't want to raise him as a genius, Guppy, he's got enough things to worry about! I failed my maths GCSE and I got through life okay, he doesn't need to take it years early."

Guppy pauses. She has a point. But there's something else there.

"You failed your maths GCSE?" he asks gently. "You never told me that."

Fran sighs and picks up the certificate.

"Yeah." she says, putting her head in her hands suddenly. "I took Key Skills before I became a physio. But I can't bear to see Fry disappointed in himself when he's better at maths age seven than I'll ever be."

Guppy puts Gil down on the floor, and slips his arm around her.

"It's a shame he's not old enough to decide things like this for himself." he says, slipping an arm around her. "He can't think far ahead, he can only think about how things are now. He thinks we're holding him back as it is."

"I know." Fran says. "I know he's never going to be a normal kid, but I've got to be honest Guppy, I'd rather he was sitting on minecraft than up there cramming."

They sit and think about it for a bit.

"I think..." Guppy says after a while, watching Gil giggle as the new puppy, Pooh, licks his feet. "I think we should let him do the regionals - I doubt he'll get through to the nationals - and after that we try and distract him with one of his other hobbies in his schedule. It's gardening season now and he likes that. And he and Coral have got chess tournaments coming up, so they can do that."

Fran nods, though doesn't look entirely convinced this will work.

"And now I'm going to talk to him about this certificate." Guppy says, picking it up and going up to the attic to find Fry.

Coral is half way up the stairs, playing some complicated game involving dinosaurs and a teddy and some drinking straws. After cautioning her not to leave anything that anyone could fall over, he carries on up to the attic rooms and knocks on Fry's door before entering.

Fry's room is immaculate, as always. He's not, it turns out, poring over a book, but instead is lying on his bed with his Nintendo DS. On closer inspection, it's still a maths game, but it's a game nonetheless.

"Hey Fry." Guppy says. "Pause in a minute?"

He waits for Fry to finish the level and pause, as from experience interrupting him in the middle of a game goes down very badly. Then his oldest son sits up and looks in his general direction.

"Hello Dad."

"I saw you got a gold certificate." Guppy says, sitting next to him on the bed. "Good job!"

Fry shrugs. "Rosie Sinclair beat me."

"If you won a Pokémon battle with one Pokémon still usable, and Rosie won with two still usable, is it any less of a win?" Guppy asks.

"No." Fry says, after a moment. "A win is a win."

"Right. And what you did was an epic win." Guppy says. "So it doesn't matter if Rosie Sinclair got a few more points than you did, you both got gold, and you both got through to the regionals."

"Huh." Fry makes a noise of agreement. The logic does seem sound.

"Now Fry." Guppy says seriously. "If you want to go to the regionals we'll take you and we want you to do your best. But there's going to be a lot of kids there, and nearly all of them will be older than you, and some of them will have been forced to train many hours a day. We won't be doing that because it's important that you do lots of things, like get enough sleep, and because you like to do other things like play the piano and play minecraft. So we'll take you if you understand that you will probably not be the top scorer and can go and compete without feeling sad. Do you think you can do that?"

"I guess." Fry says, shrugging.

"Good lad. Shall we put your epic win certificate on your wall or on the kitchen board?"

"My wall." Fry takes it off him and takes it to the cork board, where he pins it carefully next to his 25m swimming.

Guppy smiles at him, before heading back downstairs. But a part of him feels lost. This situation just isn't in the parenting manual.
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