For a moment my heart stops.
Ottie, I say, sitting down and offering you a biscuit. Some weak recompense for the toy you so want so badly but I have no money to buy. I love you so much I can barely think about how much I love you. When I do I have to sit down. [I sit down]. I have to stop everything, including breathing. I literally can’t do anything or think about anything else. Thinking how much I love you makes my heartache worse than any break-up and my feet numb as if I’ve run ten marathons. When I think how much I love you I worry about everything because anything could be something that impacts on your happiness. How much I love you makes me want to fix the world beyond any reasonable hope. It makes me want to banish the bad guys, save the good guys and protect every new born and promise them a happy, pain free, love filled life because every child reminds me of you.
I knew children before. I knew how they lived in the present, delighted in simple things, laughed like they meant it and how that laughter went on forever. I knew that they ran with a love of running I have long forgotten and how that ability to love without boundaries said everything anyone could ever say about what was good about living. I knew that children imagined the impossible and dreamed of beautiful things and that the monsters of their nightmares could always be slain.
I loved children before. But you’ve taught me more. You taught me children aren’t archetypes for adults to gaze on for their own consolation. You are noisy and challenging and subtle, surprising and free. You have not only transformed my life entirely but raised me to a new way of living I could never have imagined before you came into my life.
Ottie looked at me, slowly munching on the biscuit and thinking about what I’d said. I smiled, unexpectedly nervous, and waited. He pushed the last crumbs into his mouth and said, the small one is nice too. And it’s half the price.