Sunday, 6 February 2011



We’re hanging photographs on the bedroom wall. I’ve had a dozen of my favourite snaps of the children blown-up and framed: three boys paddling in an Isle of Wight estuary on a glorious late August afternoon; Eldest giving Middle One a piggyback in an autumnal London park; Youngest One’s little face, beaming, emerging from a bubble-filled bath, and lots more happy, sunny memories from the past. They make me smile and they make my heart ache in equal measure.

Later, Eldest comes back from the school ski trip: a whole week away from his family in the French Alps. He had a fantastic time. In the hall, I hug his surprisingly long, lean body. “Welcome home!” I gush, “We missed you!” He doesn’t quite meet my eye; he's a little aloof, separate. I feel strangely shy. Still, he lets me wrap my arms around him resting my head softly against his neck. He stands motionless for just a moment gently placing his arms back around me… then breaks away announcing he has presents for his brothers, two bright stripy lollies retrieved from the depths of a rucksack.

I try not to ask too many questions and after dinner, sitting with us on the sofa, he gradually starts to talk about the trip. Once began, it’s as if he can’t stop, talking and talking and talking: a booming man's voice ringing out across the room. I’d forgotten how loud he is. He’s stayed up late, he’s made new friends, he likes new music, he’s eaten new foods, he can ski, he can even do ski jumps now, he shows us a picture to prove it. He’s the same, but very slightly different, a tiny bit more grown up. Certainly not that little boy in the photograph on our bedroom wall, the one where he's running out of the sea towards the camera; a huge smile on his face, arms out-stretched, about seven years-old. He’s becoming someone else. And that’s why I want to remember. I want to remember it all.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

We should google that.

Youngest has been making books: pop-up books, cookery books, factual books, he likes to write the blurb for the back and pretend to be a famous author.

“Please welcome the world famous author!” He bellows before striding into the room with a big grin on his face. I have to ask for his autograph.

Eldest is mad about skateboarding. He goes every weekend if he can, on Saturday or Sunday depending on the weather. This weekend it didn’t work out, it was too wet or something and none of his friends could go.

“Never mind.” He says on Sunday afternoon when it’s clear his plans have fallen through, “I really don’t mind that much.”

“You can stay in with us for a change!” I say.

“Yeah, it’s cool.” He says, “I don’t mind really, I’m going skiing next weekend, so, that’s cool.”

We sit on the sofa all evening and watch The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes on DVD, he pauses it for me when I have to go out of the room to start making dinner. Husband listens to music in the kitchen. Middle One is upstairs on the computer.

Come to think of it, Middle One is often upstairs in the office on the computer these days. I resolve to talk to him more.

“How is school?” I say before bedtime, patting the space next to me on the sofa.

“Fine.” He says.


“How was science club?”

“Great! We were throwing eggs out of windows trying not to break them!”


“Mummy, you know trees have bark on them, to protect them?”

“Yes.” I say, my attention drifting back to the television. (Before he came in I was watching The Most Annoying People of 2010.)

“So, how does it actually grow? What’s bark made of exactly?"

“Um, well, I don’t know,” I say, “we should google that.”

“I know Redwoods grow to be the tallest and the widest trees, but what else is special about them?”

“I don’t know.”

“Are they inflammable?”

“Gosh, I don’t think so.”

I’m surreptiously trying to listen to what they’re saying about Katie Price on the telly.

“But isn’t it amazing that Redwoods just start off as tiny seeds and grow so incredibly tall!”

“Yes it is.”

“How big is a Redwood seed exactly?”

“I have no idea. Small I should think.”

“So…I know sap is right in the middle of the tree and Maple Syrup is a kind of sap isn’t it.”

“Yes it is.”


“But what is sap actually for?”

“Well, I’m not sure. We should google it.”

“Are Rowan berries poisonous?”

Now this I know!

“Yes. Yes they are.”

“But in the book I’m reading at the moment the people eat Rowan berries.”

I pause the TV with the remote.

“Do they?”


“Oh, well then, um, we should google that, I guess.”

“Can we have a Rowan tree? I love Rowan trees; I love all trees I’d like to have lots and lots of trees in my garden when I grow up. And I love animals especially wolves. Why aren’t there any wolves left? Where are there still some wolves in the wild?”

“Um, I think I read that there are still some in the north of Portugal, in the forests, and maybe in Alaska, places like that. I’m not sure. We should...”

“And when are we actually going to go to Japan? I really want to go to Japan.”

“I know you do, darling, but I’ve told you, it would be too expensive.”

“We should learn Japanese history at school. Why don’t we learn Japanese history at school, Mummy? It’s really fascinating.”

“Well, I don’t know, we have our own history I guess…”

A pause.

“Mummy? Do you know who killed Charlotte Dymond?”

“Who? No. I have no idea. Who was she?”

“We’re learning about it in English, we’re going to have trial and everyone thinks this guy, Matthew Weekes, did it but I don’t think he did because none of his shoes matched the prints left at the scene of the crime.”

“Really, that’s interesting.”

“Yes. And why is Sherlock Holmes so famous, I mean, really, why is he?”

“You know what,” I say, “it’s really late, I think it’s bedtime now, up you go.”

He goes up to bed and I un-pause the telly.