Childhood and children are over-sentimentalised in our society to the point where any reasonable adult would reach for the sickbag, but what am I to make of something like this?

Ian went into the cupboard, pulled my shoes out and lined them up neatly on the floor, then brushed them all off with a shoe brush he had found there. Among them was an ancient pair of football boots.

“Daddy”, he asked, “did you play football in these boots when you were younger?”

“Yes, I did, when I was a lot younger.”

“Like those football players on TV?

“Yes, that’s right. But I wasn’t very good – I was never on TV.”

He looked right up at me and said:

“But you’re my daddy!”

I guess it only slips through the tests for mawkishness and sentimentality if you are, in fact, the daddy being spoken to. Anyone else would think “oh God, not more – give me a decent book to read” – but it touched me in a way I could never have imagined three years ago.

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