As well as spending the week off doing fun stuff like art, parks and sliding through snow, it’s a good chance to sort out house the house. While I painted Frankenstein’s head, cleaned the kitchen and cooked a proper tea (chilli), Tom did a very good job of filling a charity sack with toys he no longer plays with (he put Buzz Lightyear in there – I thought he’d be around for… years.)

“I’d give this infinity out of a hundred,” Tom said of the chilli at the dinner table. (We don’t eat at enough.)

“Cheers. Infinity and beyond,” I said, “That’s what Buzz Lightyear says. How come you don’t want him any more?”

“I don’t play with him,” he shrugged, “and another person would like to play with him so they might as well have him.”

After tea, we were sitting cross-legged on Tom’s bedroom floor; me sorting his clothes into piles and Tom trying to match up odd socks.

“What are these doing in here?” he said, pulling a pair of tiny mittens out of his sock drawer.

“I’ve got no idea,” I said, “They’re baby-sized. You probably wore them not that long ago though.”

“Charity bag!” We both said at the same time.

I watched him from the side while he concentrated on the socks, thinking about how grown-up he’s looking.

“This is nice,” I said.

“What’s nice?”

“Just having some time to sit together in your room and make it tidy, instead of hurrying you into bed and reading your story a bit too fast and having to go downstairs and think about reading records and school uniform and washing up and an early night.”

“What will you do tonight?”

“I’ll probably leave the washing up from tea.”

“Yeah, don’t worry about that. Then what?”

“I’ll work on my book. I can’t write in the evenings when I’ve been working because my brain is full of work stuff and I’ve spent all day sitting at a computer already. Sometimes it feels like I’ll never finish, but this week, I think I will.”

“Even though I have never had that experience, I sort of understand.”


“Yeah: at school we get extra time to finish our work at break or lunch if we want to. And you would finish your book if it was just a little story like the ones I write at school, but yours is actually a great big proper book and you only get little patches of time.”

He made the little patches of time with his forefingers and thumbs.

“That’s it. Little patches of time, a.k.a. fits and starts.”

“You’ll do it though, Mum. You’re the best thing in the entire history.”

And even though he’s a bit biased, his wise words are speeding me through tonight.