Sometimes it really was a run – down School Road once the morning bell had gone, up School Road as you raced back with your friends.
Other times it was a walk, a scoot, a dwardle and a climb.
In the early days, your eyes would search for me in the playground and light up when I was found. “Mummy!” you would cry and you would sprint into my arms.
More recently my eyes would search for you, bag adrift and tie awry, a giggle down Oxford Road with a gaggle of friends.
Sometimes, I would be distracted and hasty. A call from work. An engrossing thought. A resentment of the 3.30pm curfew that cut across productive afternoons.
Other times I would gaze at you on the road ahead and feel again that first amazement: “Are you really my son? Are you really my boy?”
Each day would bring a different conversation, each day a different mood. But the route was well-trodden and the rituals were clear: hiding in the wasteland, crossing with the lolly-pop man, looking for the ice cream van, climbing along the handrail by the neighbourhood office, walking along the Silver Street wall…
One day I did my last school run. One day, amongst the demands of work and requests to play with friends, we walked home from school together for the last time. When that day was, I can not say.
But now I know for sure that day has gone and so I mourn.
And as I grieve the small, repeated acts of ordinariness – the 10p sweets and muddle of bags – what do I want you to know, my son?
That whatever your day, someone is waiting for you. Wherever you play, there’s someone who delights in you. Whatever your route, you’re being brought safely home.