Friday, 5 December 2014


Distracted by iridescent bubbles as they rise on a soft breeze, you chased these appealing spheres and tried to catch one. Hands came together and missed the bubble and each other. Fingers splayed wide you stared at the empty palms of your hands. Astonished you look to me as if to ask where did it go?

When you were newborn I checked your fingers, delicate tiny tendrils with talons as sharp as an eagles’ claws. I tried to wrap them in soft cotton mittens tying the silk ribbons as tight as I dare round each fragile wrist. That turned out to be one futile exercise as you waved your fists and wriggled those fingers free. Scars, fine spider thin strands decorated your soft velvet skin. Tiny filaments of red lacerations.

Brushing my hair was a game you enjoyed immensely. Standing behind me on the sofa, you would aim the brush. In your hands my wooden hairbrush was your preferred weapon of destruction as its wooden side cracked my skull. My hair teased and scrubbed until it became a cobbed mass of mayhem.

The performance involved in blowing your nose always bought a smile to my face. Rude noises. Huffs and puffs. Tissues smooshed up. to be aimed then lobbed at the bin. Invariably you’d direct this squished missile and not notice you had missed the intended target. Discarded the remnants lay strewn across my kitchen floor for me to tidy later whilst the bogey still hung, dangling from the tip of your nose.

I spent hours on my knees assisting you. ‘Left over right and right over left.’ Spaghetti string laces that were too fiddly for your uncoordinated fingers and you would lose interest after a couple of attempts, to race off with those unsecure laces trailing in your wake. I would watch ever vigilant in case you fell.

The first day at nursery school as we entered the room hand in hand and you spied the sandpit. Undeterred you made a direct approach, picked up a spade and as I knelt beside you, (to reassure myself) you turned, ‘Go shopping,’ and a balled up fist pushed me off balance.

I never saw you wipe away tears of frustration with the back of your hand, you would stand there with a lost look in your eye and let the big fat tear drops splash on the ground. And then one day, when a rude man spooked me, you thrust your hand in mine and shouted: ‘Race you home.’ We ran as fast as your legs would allow, holding each other fast.

Your skin’s fine and brittle like tissue packing paper, nothing like mine and there’s a coolness and an oldness to these small hands that worries me but you seem not to notice or care. As the years passed you grew and the day you tugged your hand free from mine at the pelican crossing, ‘I can cross the road on my own.’ Left me reeling.