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The Walk Home

By Tom Kreffer

The Walk Home by Tom KrefferContinuing with our celebration of all things books, to mark World Book Day on 2nd March, we invited dad and author Tom Kreffer to share a story with us. It’s a story that is at once familiar and ordinary, and yet amusing, emotional and, surprisingly, full of adventure. We hope you like it…

My son, Arlo, is almost three. Today, he’s at nursery, and I’m on pick-up duty (which I love). It’s a task that ranks in my top three parenting responsibilities. I snake my way through the building occupied by loud, shrieking children and always-busy, always-on-their-feet staff. I pass walls that host artistic endeavours created by small, curious hands.

Nine times out of ten, I’ll find Arlo in the garden. He’s an outdoor kind of guy. And he’s always easy to locate among the sea of moving infants because he’s often the loudest among them.


I still get a buzz when I hear myself referred to as ‘Daddy’, a badge of honour that I’m proud to wear each day; I still occasionally question if it’s real.

‘Hey bud, have you had a good day?’

‘Yes, I have.’

A member of staff gives me the highlights from the day. Since Arlo changed his nursery setting over a year ago, he’s had pretty much nothing but good days – a stat any parent would welcome.

We always have a set agenda to work through on our walk back home. First, we stop to pick up stones. Arlo is considerate enough to get one for each of us. Sometimes, the stones come from the pavement. Other times, they come from the front garden of one of the houses we pass. It has a gravel section that’s marginally thinner than it was eight months ago.

Next, we visit a flat-development site. Most of the time, it’s shut for the day, and we can only look in through the chain-mail fence. But today we strike gold: the gate is still open. There’s a man in a hi-vis jacket, guiding a reversing flatbed truck onto the site with some expert arm-waving. Arlo and I stand to one side.

‘Can we watch the whole thing, Daddy?’ he says, with a face full of fascination.

‘You betcha.’

We’re midway through ‘watching the whole thing’ when another man arrives on the scene, instantly grabbing Arlo’s attention. ‘Daddy, that man has a hard hat. He might be the head builder.’

‘Why don’t you ask him?’

‘Excuse me, are you the head builder?’

He smiles warmly, like most tradespeople do at a toddler in awe of their profession.

‘Not likely. I don’t get paid enough to be the head builder.’

We leave the site, and Arlo locates ‘the wall’. It’s typical by most wall standards, coming up to the bottom of my ribcage. This means it’s high enough to be considered adventurous if you’re under a metre tall and you choose to walk on it, which Arlo does. He used to want to hold my hand. Now he’s getting daring, mainly walking by himself, though I’m always by his side ready to spring into action should the need arise.

We meet a pillar box positioned flush against the wall Arlo’s walking on. He stops walking, turns and crouches, transitioning into the next item of our walking home agenda: opening the shop.

‘Would you like to buy anything from my shop, Daddy?’

‘Oh, I would love to. What do you have in stock today?’

‘Erm, I’ve got some apples, some pears and some books.’

‘Excellent. I’ll take the lot.’

‘OK, here you go.’

‘Thank you,’ I say, pocketing the imaginary goods. ‘How much do I owe you?’

‘Two pounds, please.’

It’s always two pounds, no matter what he sells me. Sometimes, I get an even better bargain than the one I’ve just got.

Tom Kreffer and his son

Arlo resumes the walk along the wall until he reaches the end. Then he holds on to my hands and jumps off.

Then I fly him up the street like an aeroplane.

Then I get tired and put him down.

Then he pretends to put some imaginary energy in my pocket and demands more aeroplane action. I can’t say no, no matter how hard my lungs protest.

He asks questions that I don’t know the answers to, like what type of berry is on a tree or why there is a particular shape of cloud in the sky. He makes me feel ignorant and full of wonder at the same time. Through his eyes, I’m treated to a unique view of the world that I haven’t experienced since I was his age. Not that I remember it.

‘Look, Daddy, a robot!’

He’s not wrong. It’s a small white thing on wheels, shaped like a large vacuum cleaner. These robots deliver food. I find their presence poignant. They remind me of my childhood and what technology was like when I was small (Walkman, anyone?). I consider what life will be like for Arlo when he’s grown up. I wonder what technological achievements his kids will find fascinating. That’s if he has any, of course.

We cross the road and turn down our street. We see a dog. ‘I love that doggy, Daddy.’

He says that about every dog we pass in the street.

We reach our door. As I’m getting my keys out, Arlo decides to conduct an enquiry about something he sees stuck on the wall. It’s a piece of chewing gum. He’s already touching it when I notice.

‘Arlo, that’s dirty.’

‘Should someone have put it in the bin?’

‘Yes, they should.’

‘Can I have a little play when we get inside?’


‘Actually, I want a snack first. Can I have a cracker?’

‘A cracker ple—’



‘Hooray! Thank you, Daddy.’

‘You’re welcome, Arlo.’

I open the door, and we both walk in.

All in all, a pretty solid walk home.


About the Author

Tom Kreffer is the author of Dear Dory: Journal of a Soon-to-be First-time Dad, Dear Arlo: Adventures in Dadding, Toddler Inc., and he is the creator of the Adventures in Dadding Newsletter. He lives in Northampton with his family, whom he intends to exploit for many more story opportunities in the years to come.

Find out more at


Tom KrefferDear DoryDear ArloToddler Inc.