When my twins started school in 2013 they developed a habit of getting very attached to the most bizarre objects, especially when out and about. Our walk to school takes us down an alleyway (or a jitty if you're from Leics) which leads on to a patch of green with a large willow tree. There's a busy crossing next, but before that bit we get a little bit of nature. There are some railings next to allotments on one side of the jitty. Back in late summer 2013 this became the ideal hiding place for my daughter's collection of sticks. We'd go to school in the morning and she'd leave a stick in a special place in the railings and feel very pleased when we walked home in the afternoon when she found the stick waiting for her. The sticks changed everyday and eventually formed a pile in the front garden, but the point was that the same stick had to be retrieved at the end of the day. A sense of security, I suppose.
Of course one day the stick wasn't to be found. That provoked a lot of tears. I had to try and see the world from a 4 year old's perspective and think what it was to lose something which gave you a sense of place and security. I'm sure starting school had a lot to do with that. Eventually sticks became old hat and I had the idea of writing a poem about the event. It went through many drafts, at one point there was a cherry tree, but then there were too many trees! Tinkering ensued. I did an online course and this was one of the poems I submitted for feedback. Thank you Liz Berry and the other students! The poem is now available in 'Acumen 78' although there was a problem with the printing and the last 2 lines were lost from the page. The editor, Patricia Oxley, has kindly published the poem online so you can read it in full here. If you're reading this post months after it's been posted, then scroll down and you'll find it eventually. It's only been relatively recently that I've started writing about my children, so this is quite personal territory for me.