Where did they go, those little children of mine?
Two years ago we went to the Williamstown Fair and hand-in-hand we walked around the grounds. The children went with trepidation on some of the rides, waving every time they caught my eye, and stayed close to my side, their eyes aglow in the sensory overload of music and colour, hustle and bustle.
Last year we were at the Cottage and missed the fair. But we returned this year. And what a difference.
There's Alex, said Erik, racing off after his school friend.
We'll meet you at the ticket booth, called out a nonchalent Anna as she and two friends strolled by.
It's okay. I'm riding with these guys, Grace tells me when I suggest we go and look at the booths, concerned that her brother and sister have abandoned her for their own friends.
And I find myself alone in a crowd, holding cotton candy bags and half finished drinks, extra sweaters and stuffed animals won at the fair.
I watch them run around, happy, confident, at ease in this world that used to be so foreign to them. I watch them ride the Spider and the Scrambler-rides I loved as a child, and other rides that I wouldn't go on today, but which doesn't seem to bother them at all.
I look around and see I am not, in fact, alone. There are other parents like myself, whose children - 8, 9, 10, on the brink of adolescence - are expressing a new sudden independence in this place that is at once new and exciting and yet familiar to them.
It's wonderful to see. But yet I wonder.
Where did they go? Those small children?
When did they get so big?