My wee boy's feet - aged two years, eight months – captured in washable white paint, scampering across a sheet of sky blue cardboard, initialled with a crayon squiggle.
Chubby digits hovering over tiny arches and rounded heels, once fragile and delicate, now just a faded, chipped impression of the originals.
We preserved those pudgy appendages one stormy day, imprisoned by the rain from our planned outing at the park. All biddable bobbing brown curls, cheeky smiles and trusting cuddles, my bemused toddler lay on his back among his dinosaurs and tractors, giggling with delight at the tickle texture of the feathery paint brush on his soft pads. With his soles freshly painted, he placed a cautious footprint on the azure canvas. As he grew more confident at his imprint, he skipped and hopped full of joie de vivre (holding his willy simultaneously for security) across our makeshift landing strip, gleefully counting "Won, Tw-o-o, Free, Four" and singing "this little piggy went to the market, this little piggy stayed home."
It's not his first steps, but early strides towards the adult those feet would someday support. Tiny tootsies with all life's journeys and adventures and roads least and most travelled still to be discovered. Feet that would later learn to drag, and be swept off, and to stand on; terra firma that would define his foundation and lead him to home after drunken teenage binges; milestones away from the size 11+ shoes of their current owner..
What dreams I had for those perfectly formed extremities – all the lands they would explore and landmarks they would experience between boyhood and manhood.
My cupboards still burst with the cherished memorabilia of my offspring – albums of overflowing photographs; drawers stuffed with scribbled drawings in primary colours; stacks of primary school reports. But out of all of those, it's the imprint of those tiny toes and the promises they still hold that I treasure most.