How a simple sketch by my son – drawn on a chalkboard one morning at home – put life in perspective for me, as a father.
The picture my son drew was rudimentary, as pictures by five-year-olds tend to be. He was the little figure on the standing chalkboard, and I was the massive roundish blob, coloured between the lines in a sea of scratchy blue, edges in yellow and green, islands of white and the occasional red burst.
As an afterthought, my son gave me thin arms and legs, the correct number of fingers and toes, a small head with sparse hair, but no neck to speak of. This makes sense, for this is all he can see from his usual vantage point far below me, craning his tiny head up in my direction.
Nothing about this picture is extraordinary. But still it formed a lump in my throat.
My wife has been away, you see, visiting family abroad for three weeks, and in that short time Charlie has grown closer to me, more dependent and reliant upon me and my rhythms, and I his. In the drawing he seemed to sense this. I looked like the earth, and he a small body caught in its orbit – as if I were his entire world. This, too, makes sense.