Like your brothers and sister, you all are the most precious gifts that God and Life gave us. We often talk in awe (still!) about how and why we had been chosen to parent these beautiful beings. After all, we were just two ordinary people who went to the pub one evening, sat on the beach, and accidentally made a baby.
I was eight years old when I accidentally walked in on my mum injecting heroin in the kitchen. I'll never forget the confused look on her face - the warm embrace of the opiates blunted any acute feelings shame and panic, leaving her with an ugly, dumbfounded grimace. Luckily, this episode was the turning point in both our lives...
I was brought up in an agnostic house- my parents were not particularly interested in religion and made it plain to us three children that we could do whatever we wanted. In a sense I am grateful to my parents who both came from relatively liberal families and were not that ingrained with God and the rest.
My mother never really wore make up when I was a child. She didn't spend hours in the morning putting her face on, straightening her hair or painting her nails. She never French plaited my hair, dressed me up in frilly clothes that I had to 'keep clean', threw me a mini-makeover party or bought me sparkly princess shoes.
Beyond the fantasy child, the everywhere child, and the policed image of children, we are living in a golden age of films about children, and haven't quite noticed. Movie directors in Iran, Japan, the UK, Holland and elsewhere are releasing masterpieces about childhood. Why is this golden age happening, and why does it matter?
I loved books and enjoyed writing, so I spent my time reading and trying to emulate the styles of my favorite authors. My books and their characters became my friends. At that time, the condition Asperger's wasn't known in the US. Children who would have been diagnosed today were considered odd and treated as outcasts back then.
Whatever the reasons, it can only be a good thing that museums have become more accessible to children, families and other diverse audiences, and I find it difficult to imagine a world where the first sign to come into view at the entrance of one of our renowned galleries or museums reads "NO CHILDREN ALLOWED". Or at least I did until recently.
Christmas at Standingstone - the farm I grew up on in Scotland - was largely a dreary affair. Any fun had to be either sought from within myself or beyond its demises. Both of my adopted parents tended towards the solemn anyway; their sadnesses and failures permeated the already dour and damp sandstone house with a cold seriousness.
So, whilst I was already very thankful for my mum - who has been therefore me through everything I can possibly remember - I feel like I appreciate her a little more now. And it makes me miss her, because, whilst she is only a phone call away if I need some moral support, I no longer have her around to help with those really little things in life.
Education is something that most of us in the UK take for granted. We go to nursery as toddlers, move through primary and secondary education before deciding whether college and university are for us. Most of us even grumble about it, complaining about homework, early mornings, the lack of free time. But if we didn't have this opportunity, our lives would be completely different.
We were all so comfortable and content. I hope we can make it a tradition to build a blanket fort because it's simply, well just that, simple. It was such a relaxing, and easy way to spend a day. If you ever find yourself not knowing what to do on a lazy day, I highly suggest finding a couple of blankets, and friends to build your own fort.
Right through his life, Nilsson went on pouring his life and experiences into his lyrics, and there are few artists whose life can be traced, song by song, album by album, as graphically as his. His split from his second wife, his experiences of drugs and alcohol, and his final, fulfilled family life with his third wife Una...
Children are brilliant aren't they? They smile for no reason, dance in the street, cuddle strangers (even when advised otherwise), they say what they mean and they dream big. Children are a big deal at this year's Edinburgh Fringe. Comedy for children and children's theatre seem to be doing fantastically well.