I don’t remember when I discovered Skype. All I do know is that I was in the depths of despair about seeing my little girl Willow who had gone back to the south of Germany with her mother. I was haunted by the fear I would lose touch with her completely, that things would become more and more distant until I hardly knew how to relate to her, or she to me. Telephone calls were all very well, but a really young child can’t remain interested on the phone for more than a few minutes, especially when her first language is not yours.
I do remember the early Skype calls and how nervous I was. I feared I would fail at this; I had no idea how to start. There isn’t a book for every child and your life with them: that book is written by you each new day. I’m sure I was awkward and lacking in all kind of imagination during those first sessions – and I’m a writer! Then my cousin Ali gave me a set of finger puppets. He’s an actor and he told me to start making up stories. That was the first step: seeing a way forward. It was the beginning of a whole new world of stories. Tiny ones, but stories just the same.
Now Willow runs to different cupboards, bringing out toys and books she wants to show me. Last night she made play pancakes and I acted out the part of a repair man who was going to have to come and see about her fridge. Often problems are solved only when her unicorn with the magic horn has intervened, putting all the efforts of helpless mechanics and tradesfolk to one side. And then Willow will lean in close to the screen to tickle me, or wait until I have been lulled into a false sense of security to boo me. And finally she will give me a hug through the screen, this beloved little girl of mine whom I miss with such hugeness, who has been given back to me by Skype. These days of the week aren’t called Tuesdays and more; instead I think of them as Willowsdays.

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