Yesterday we had a little party for Fin's eighth birthday. The weather was undecided so we took the party to the pool where it was absolutely wet. Six boys ambled behind us like something from Stand By Me, kicking stones and chatting with their hands. Occasionally a little exuberance would escape with an uncontrollable spring lamb gambol. Nick and I held hands and pretended to be walking alone, just ahead, but keeping an eye and ear peeled for the sound of twelve sandals. On one sneaky backward glance Fin caught my eye and grinned hugely, throwing a double thumbs up.
I thought about how often I had walked with Fin's small hand in my own and wondered at the swift passage of time.
At the pool we let the boys go in by themselves, all eight or over now, they didn't need chaperones. It was Fin's first time in the pool without an adult and he emerged from the locker room with a swagger in his step. The boys leapt straight in after him and they swam to the deep end to practice diving - leaving the 'fun' session at the other end where girls and their mums splashed about childishly.
It was like witnessing Fin downing his first pint. A seminal moment, the first of many in his forays into adulthood.
Later, when the swim stuff was all hung out to dry and candles extinguished, we sat together on the sofa whilst balloons bobbed around the room in the evening breeze.
Then he climbed onto my lap and sucked his thumb a bit before bed. Back in the safety of being a little boy again.