“Mum Mum! We’re going on a school trip to the bug museum!”
“I don’t know, look in my book bag – there’s a letter!”
Tom is learning to read. He tries to figure out words on graffiti, signs, packaging and just about everything he sees. It’s brilliant (apart from when we walk past the wall sprayed with ‘twat’.) Today, we were in the card shop, choosing birthday cards for his Nan.
“To – my – da-rrr-ling – wif-ee,” said Tom. “Mum, what’s a whiffy?”
I turned a corner and found the ‘Mum’ cards, but in our local card shop there’s a well-stocked ‘Mam’ section and that’s what I was looking for. It’s a silly tradition every birthday and mothers’ day.
“D-a-d.” I heard behind me.
Oh bloody hell. A far too early fathers’ day stand.
“Oh well, don’t need one of those because I haven’t got a dad,” he said to himself, matter of fact as anything.
“Are you OK about that?” I said, ruffling his hair and steering him towards Mam.
“Yeah, I’m fine. I don’t need one – Luke Smith hasn’t got a Dad.”
Luke Smith is a genetically engineered boy with no navel from Doctor Who spin-off show The Sarah Jane Adventures.
“Yeah, but his Mum is Sarah Jane.”
“Yeah and you’re better than Sarah Jane.”
We had a few tears a couple of weeks ago when the actress who plays Sarah Jane died. I’d never paid any attention to it before, it was something I knew I could stick on when I had something to do, or needed half an hour’s peace. I occasionally glanced at the telly and spotted a monster or a rhino in a policeman’s uniform and wondered why Tom wasn’t scared, but didn’t really have a clue what was going on. After Elisabeth Sladen died, I thought it only fair that I sit down and watch it with him. The storylines were much better than I thought and I ended up watching about four episodes. Sarah Jane adopted Luke to stop him from being used to destroy the world (I think) and she’s a dab hand at wiping out bad aliens with her sonic lipstick. I’ve never been one for sci-fi or Doctor Who or any of that, but I completely understand why Tom likes it – and I think being told I’m better than her is a pretty big compliment. And if comparing himself to Luke makes Tom feel better, that’ll do fine for now.
All I had to do then was explain why the card I chose said M-a-m instead of M-u-m.
Twenty five adults, one five year old boy, one big camping trip. Surely Tom would irritate everyone? Surely he would get bored?
Sitting in beer gardens
Eating ice cream
Eating sausages fried on a camping stove
Falling in a river and laughing
Rescuing a stranded lamb
Rescuing a stranded fish (and actually inadvertently killing it, but he really thought he’d freed Willy.)
Being read the BFG by torch light
Crossing streams on rickety bridges
Rescuing insects with their limbs and wings in various states of disrepair
Exploring a crumbling farmhouse
Drawing ridiculous permanent marker tattoos on people
Sleeping in a teepee
Jumping in freezing Ullswater
Spotting an enormous caterpillar
Enjoying many piggy backs and shoulder rides, some along sheer ridges of mountain paths
Stripping off to his bare chest when the sun came out, just like the grown ups (well, the men anyway.)