A word never to be used by me for mine: "wain". Wee one. Child. Pronounced 'way in', or 'weigh in' - depending on the county. The 'way in' to a country whose border I cannot cross. To 'weigh in' on conversations, of playgrounds and GAA matches and first loves, to which I will remain a stranger.
So it is bittersweet when Siún, my niece, asks to hold my hand. We are walking on a path to the pier, where we'll wait for a ferry to return us to the mainland across the bay dotted with tiny islands crowned with houses and stone ruins. Between us wavers the image of that wanted child, keenly felt but nevertheless just an image. Her smile eclipses that child, for it is real and hard-won from this fiercely independent wain, who used to glare at me, distrustful, across dining tables; “young enough to think desire alone shapes the world.”