‘Mummy, can we stop at the Garden Centre on the way home from school? I want to buy daddy a can of coke with my own money.’
It was Friday afternoon and I was feeling myself tensing up in expectation of another brutal weekend of sabotage. When we got home my son Jamie asked to use the computer and told me he was doing something secret and I was to keep out.
‘I am making a Power Point presentation.’
Twenty minutes later he called me and asked me to sit in front of the screen.
‘I’ve made this for you and dad.’
‘SORRY’ said the opening slide amongst animations of little people crying and banging their heads against rocks.
Then ‘I KNOW IT’S BEEN DIFFICULT’ above a man collapsed with exhaustion.
‘PLEASE DON’T GIVE UP ON ME’ said the final slide.
‘Jamie, me and daddy are never ever going to give up on you. We are your mum and dad forever.’
He looked at me with watery eyes.
‘You’ve been pushing me and daddy so hard lately. I think maybe you’ve been testing to see if we will ring social services and ask them to take you away.’
‘I don’t mean to do it.’
We had a hug and I told him that it would be the end of my world if he ever left our family. Then we drank hot chocolate and watched an episode of Malcolm in the Middle together. We’ve been bonding over Malcolm in the Middle. Jamie likes Dewey. I am Lois.
‘I feel like I am coming out of a long, dark tunnel,’ says Jamie.
He lets me hold his hand.