The Boy passed me on the stairs, damp (but still smelling faintly feral) from his shower, a towel held across his nethers, but I could still see a faint whisper of darkening hair. It struck me that I will probably never see him naked again, unless I make a concerted effort to do so (ewwwwww – yes). But it also struck me how little I get to touch him. He hugged me a few nights ago, his way of making up after one of our many spats, and I cherished the few seconds of bony touch.

But the last time, he actually reached for my hand in a simple declaration of wanting my mummy comfort was last year when he was 12. We all had to have typhoid jabs for a holiday. I held the Girl on my lap; she was tiny and had no fear of the needle until she felt a sharp pain and roared for a few seconds. But I remember the Boy sitting on a chair, trying to be brave. “Look at me and count to three”, I urged. He did so, and at the same time, I took his hand. It felt bony, dry, and birdlike. I stroked his thumb and it was all over by the time he got to “Two”.

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