MY wife's eyes were red. She'd been watching the news - the unthinkably tragic news - with our two oldest children. "Can you pop up and say goodnight, they're a bit upset," she said as I arrived home late from work.

They had sat in silence, listening to a recording of a telephone call from a woman destined to die in the World Trade Centre, telling her husband that she would love him for ever.

Upstairs, Christopher and Hannah were finding it hard to sleep: "Daddy, I've used up the tissues in this box and my pyjamas are wet from where I've been crying," said Hannah, aged nine. Then Christopher, aged 11, chipped in with the question children all over the world are asking their parents: "Is there going to be a war?"

It is a question that often kept me awake as a child. I'd lie in the darkness, with visions of mushroom clouds in my head, as tensions heightened between America and Russia. My dad would always tell me not to worry saying: "Don't be silly, there won't be a war. Get some sleep."

"Dad, is there going to be a world war?" Christopher repeated.

"Of course not. Don't be silly. All the other countries are on our side so there's nothing to worry about. Now try to get some sleep," I said.

It had been like a Superman film, only this time, Superman didn't get there in time.

Their four-year-old little brother Max - fast asleep across the corridor, alongside Jack, aged seven - still believes in Superman. He wears hand-me-down Superman pyjamas, but the others are having to come to terms with real life.

Christopher has just started 'big school' and had decided to stand for election to the school council. The following night, he was preparing his speech and wasn't sure whether to make a reference to America: "I want to say something about stamping out bullying, and terrorism is an extreme example of bullying, isn't it?" he said.

In the end, he left it out: "It's not right to use what's happened for my own ends," he said, confirming that he'll never make a politician.

The weekend came slowly. On Sunday morning, it was my turn to take Jack to his trampolining lessons.

My taxi service - FAST CABS (Father's A Soft Touch) - has had a wide variety of assignments over the years and trampolining is the latest.

I've got used to my Sunday mornings being shattered by children waking far too early and using my bed as a trampoline. Now, I have to take my turn to get up at 8am on Sunday mornings to take our seven-year-old to the sports centre to practise on a proper trampoline.

He loves it. He's learned to land on his bottom, then on his stomach and back on his feet again, with a twirl in the middle.

In between watching him bouncing, I read the Sunday papers: 'WE ARE AT WAR' screamed the headline. Where will it all end?

"Do you want to come trampolining again next week," I asked Jack on the way home. "Yes," he said. "Unless we're at war."

Bounce as high as you can, son - live life to the full.

P.S. Thank you to those who wrote to say they enjoyed the last column about our family outing to buy cut-price tins of tuna at the supermarket. (With customers restricted to only three cans each, having four children proved to be a huge bonus.) Unfortunately, however, I am unable to help the reader who wanted to borrow my children to help her capitalise on an offer for cheap plum tomatoes. No can do...

Published: Friday, September 21, 2001