At the age of three, my son looked at me, ‘Where did I come from, Dad?’ he said.
We sat by warm fire on a cold evening. His eyes, big, blue and trusting, demanded honesty. It was a genuine father/son moment so I did not hesitate.
‘Well,’ I said, ‘Your mum was desperate for a son. She’d had a couple of daughters and they’re lovely but there was something missing. She was inconsolable. You know how she gets.’
‘So, we went down to Mothercare to see if they had anything in. Well. They’d had a rush. The shelves were bare. Your Mum rushed up to a saleslady and asked what had happened. The lady explained that they’d had a sale and crowds of people had turned up. It’d been advertised on the telly. Every single baby had gone. Your Mum cried something terrible. She threw her arms round the lady and just wept. I even felt a bit weepy myself. I disentangled her from the lady and said, “Come on, love. We tried.”
‘We’d just got to the door when the lady called us back. “Let’s have a look in the Stockroom,” she said, “just to be sure.” So we went into the Stockroom. Huge, it was, lined with empty wooden shelves from floor to ceiling. The lady and your Mum started to look around.
‘There was nothing there except dust. Then the lady got this ladder and climbed to the very top. She leaned over the very top shelf and picked up a grubby cardboard box. She brought it down the ladder and put it on the floor in front of us. “There you go,” she said.
‘Your Mum knelt down and opened the box. She squealed with delight when she saw your face in a nest of polystyrene packing chips looking up at her. Someone had stamped “REJECT”on your forehead. It was, obviously a clerical error because we brought you home, cleaned you up and you were perfect!
‘We were both really happy because you were so gorgeous and we’ve loved you ever since.’
‘What’s for tea, Dad?’ he said.