Campfire Story



I woke up on the morning before my son’s 16th Birthday and realised that I should have organised something by now. I had tried, the problem, communication with my son, he is like a sunflower. Sometimes he turns his head towards me and I am dazzled, by happy yellow but mostly it is turned away.  I cross my fingers and hope that the sunflower I am growing, will be what was promised on the packet when my husband and I planted it.


I listened at an organised breakfast recently that this might not actually be the case, he might become a radish instead.

Oh well, I was convinced by the guest speaker at the breakfast that everything would be OK and I should trust and laugh with my boy child more. The seed will be fine, whatever it grows into, I shake my head and forget the breakfast and the confusing seed analogy.  We are all so very busy and I have already had a 16-year-old in the house, so it is no big deal. I argue with myself and reason as I lie in my warm bed.  That is not right, conscience kicks me, I jump out of bed.  My son is going to be 16!  His non-committal, nonchalant shoulder shrugging might mean “I would love a party.”

On a whim I decided that a trainer would be pretty cool as a Birthday Cake, he’s a runner, so I stuffed my chocolate cake recipe in my bag with the cake tin, snuck into his room and made a paper template of his newest trainer while he slept.

I love my son so much it hurts.

I went happily to work with a plan and renewed energy to pull a celebration wish list from my son. At the very least he would have a cake, it is our tradition to eat cake on birthday mornings, whatever else is happening, or not happening, this must stand.

At work, the girls were patient and allowed me to sculpt chocolate cake, layered with buttercream and raspberry jam when I should have been cleaning.  The process was pretty simple, if a little time consuming, so I finished the crumb coat, popped it in the fridge and stayed late to make up my time.  The day darkened and night fell without me hearing. My husband picked up takeaways as I rolled out fondant icing.  It was quiet in the kitchen I had time, memories lined up.


I was trying to replicate a trainer which had just arrived at our house. The running shoes had been ordered online by my son for his own Birthday present and paid for by his recount of my credit card number.  A birthday gift ritual in which my part was no longer needed.  I was not sure how I felt about that.  Anyway, they had been delivered on time and I had seen them for the first time that morning through the gloom of dawn.  I pressed the icing into the buttercream and closed my eyes, feeling the shape, working instinctively. The warmth of my hands smoothed as the memories came.

The decision.

The blue line

The birth

My shift, when I understood that I could love this new child so fiercely, so completely, when I had vowed with my first that it could not be possible.

The banging

The climbing

The ball kicking

My rejoicing, when I understood the point of these things, when I had thought them pointless, having never shared them with a boy before.

The sensitivity

The loving

The laughter

My delight, when these things were reveled to me, when I though snips and snails and puppy dog tails, was what little boys were made of?

The simplicity

The logic

The silence

My learning, when I understood  boy is different to girl, when I had thought I should mould him to be more like me.

The risk taking

The competition

The Brotherhood

My fear, I do not understand yet but know I must endure, when my husband will have to explain the importance of these things and sooth me.


16, I silently shake my head and make huffing noises.  I finished my task by pushing a clean tea towel into the icing to mimic the texture of laces.  16, my son almost has the body of a man.  He worries about his future, makes bad choices, forgets to help around the house, looses things, studies hard, showers obsessively, forgets things routinely, loves me, hates me, needs me, pushes me away, trains regimentally and eats more than any human I have ever known.

He laughs hard with his friends, makes plans at the last minute, then changes them, makes more washing than the rest of the household put together, plays his music too loud, is arrogant, tender, funny and naive.  He lied to me the other day and it broke my heart, he accepted his punishment and did what he had to do to make it better.  We are all a little frazzled but I think ultimately it is just another step forward into manhood.

He is a 16-year-old boy, trying his hardest and is being just what he should be.  I love him so much it hurts, just like a mum should.  Happy Birthday, son.  Good things are about to happen. You are doing so well. xxxx  Just try and stay safe over this next bit I talked to the cake and my words were pulled into the extraction unit.  I did not know if they would ever be heard.


Happy Birthday
A trainer has never tasted so good.

16th Birthday


He loved the cake, and had organised for friends to come over.

We have a fabulous dinner as a family, we laughed, shared, reminisced.  I just have to be patient with my son, relax, things usually just work themselves out, not my approach, but he is doing his thing now, all by himself!!

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