I thought I’d give myself some silly challenges to see how I cope. And, if I’m honest, to force me to do some writing. There are tons of ways of stimulating a writing session, such as writing a fixed number of words, or writing for a particular time.
So I decided on giving myself a time limit and thought long and hard about how much time it should be. Five minutes seemed too short a time and ten minutes was more than I felt like doing, but seven minutes was my Goldilocks number (“just right”). It’s short enough that I feel it’s not a big deal, but not so short that I won’t be able to write enough to make it worthwhile.
In other words, I can’t get out of it! Below is the piece, unedited, that I’ve written in seven minutes, including time spent on thinking of a subject.
As I gave my son the money he needed to buy a Mother’s Day gift – again – I saw the look on his face. Some of the money was going to remain in his pocket, I was sure.
Disappointment filled my nostrils like the stale, sour smell of cigarette smoke in a tap room. I’d been giving him plenty of warning that he needed to save some money and, once again, he hadn’t. Even though my wife wasn’t bothered for a present, I knew that if she got one she’d be secretly utterly delighted.
Off he trudged and as I watched him leave I remembered the times I’d taken him shopping for a present for mum when he was a little boy. How I miss those days. Now, as a boy on the verge of being a young man, he constantly missed the low targets I set for him. Every time I lowered the bar he seemed to manage to sneak under it. And most of the time I could not disguise how I felt about it.
An hour or so later I saw him coming back up the street with a friend. His friend had a bag, but my son didn’t. Not unexpected, that other kids took the time to celebrate Mother’s Day, but my son didn’t even when reminded and given the money. The dull, nagging ache of disappointment and regret climbed its way up to my heart and I sighed.
“Hi, Dad,” he said.
That was it. The entire conversation. No explanation, or apology, just a “hi”.
Waking on the Sunday, Mother’s Day, I thought I’d leave him to it to explain why he hadn’t got her anything.
That’s where the seven minutes stopped, but I want to finish the story so here goes:
He was already awake when I got up, which was unusual. As I came downstairs I could see him holding a card and a package, which took me aback.
“I got Steve to hide it yesterday so you’d think I’d forgotten. I knew you’d tell mum if I bought something so it’s a bigger surprise for her this way,” he said with a grin that took him close to looking like The Joker.
He certainly had. He’d got me good and proper. Although there are times when he’s just a smelly, bad-tempered, messy, demanding teenager, there are also times when I remember just how wonderful a son he still is. Today was one of them. Today was a good day. Today he was a good boy. He was our good boy.
As he walked upstairs with the card and present he looked back at me and laughed – and so did I.