At 6.30AM, I peeled open one bleary eye in bed to find a silhouette sitting in front of me.
It was my son. Getting ready for school, he sat studying me for a few minutes.
"Mummy," he finally said, in a casual, let's-talk-about-the-weather tone. "My school shoes are getting very tight. I find it hard to walk in them."
The thought of my poor son walking around in shoes that are pinching his feet filled me with guilt. Why hadn't I checked earlier if he was outgrowing his white lace-ups?
Then again, those shoes had been bought only at the beginning of this year, when he started primary school, and had been roomy then.
"Okay, okay, we will go buy you some new ones after school," I said quickly.
He nodded, as though to say "Thanks, mate", then left the room quietly to go downstairs to eat his breakfast.
The full force of our highly civil exchange hit me only a few days later: My elder son has gone from a cherub-cheeked, gap-toothed toddler to a self-assured young man. All in seven years.
"Why do kids grow up so fast?" I have asked myself often, like countless other parents. Will the feeling - half wonder and half panic at the relentless maturing of our offspring - ever subside? Or will it merely intensify as we get more and more infirm, and our children more and more independent?
I remember rushing home from work to play with my firstborn when he was little. He would gaze up at me from his playpen, chuckling as we played peek-a-boo.
These days, he returns home from school, greets me casually, then potters about the house, doing his own thing. As the contrast between what that baby of years ago and what the boy of today can do widens, the pang in my heart deepens.
It is the same with my younger son, who turns four later this month. "Why is my birthday not here yet?" asks the little brother once every few days.