When I think about the way you entered this world, I marvel, every time. The panic that set in when you made no noise as you arrived into this life… that three-second arched eyebrow your father and I shared, which shot right back down into reality as you mewed your first noise… that was our first taste of this love.
It’s now eleven years later, and I still panic when you don’t make a noise, but for entirely different reasons. You’re happily focused on a book, or plotting your next move in a game. You’re strategically setting out your books to study, or you’re meandering avenues of your mind I will probably never truly know.
There are an abundance of moments in our life where I am caught short of breath, as I realise the no-noise-child born into this world during a thunderstorm, is now the determined young lady before me at the dinner table. You have ideas, desires, dreams and rules for yourself. You have limits and boundaries, you have talents and skills. You have so many things I wished for you, and so many things I see you got straight from my book of life. I see your father in you, so very much, and I see myself, reflected back, sometimes painfully, but a lot of the time, hilariously.
You’re a wondermind of ideas, gently hewn by the notion of always putting other people before yourself. I’m trying to help you not to do that all the time, because this past year has shown us isolated (but luckily, not terribly harmful) situations where that’s not always the best plan of action. Figuring out when that’s a good move, and when it isn’t, is a life lesson I can only be part of, because the lesson is taught to you, by you, and through you.
The idea that children grow up has never scared me. The reality that children grow away from their parents terrifies me. But we are just the tree trunk and you, the child who must grow towards the sun, the branches and leaves that reach up towards the marvels of the sky.
Slowly, as you’ve grown taller, so too have your branches and, little by little, your leaves turn their faces towards the glowing sunshine of life.
Do not forget, however, my sweet child, that your family is the trunk. We are here, as you grow, when you want to recoil from the world and when you want to leap up towards it. We are here to keep you strong, help you reach higher and grow even more leaves. My job now is to be that trunk, and help you figure out which is the best way for your leaves to turn, to ensure maximum sunshine potential. I could ask for no better privilege in life.
When you turned five, we laughed over how you were now a “whole hand”. Last year, when you turned ten, I quietly mused into your sleeping head on the eve of your birthday that I’m running out of fingers and hands.
And now, as we begin the ascent towards your eleventh birthday, I realise I have run out of fingers to count the years of you, and need to use my toes too. As each year brings with it some great new skill to learn, or some giant lesson to tangle with, or an astounding discovery of the forests and worlds that live within you, I am reminded that you are on your own life journey. I was just the beginning, and my life – for you – must provide the navigational lessons to help you find your own way.
This is not to say that I am not with you. You know all too well that I’d helicopter my way into everything you’d let me, with rotating blades flapping wildly or quietly, whichever you prefer. But it’s up to me to respect the way you welcome my helicopter motions, and to respect the times where you tell me they are not required.
We talk, often, about wonders of the world we live in, or the fascinating ideas beyond our front door. In the oceans of life, as they ebb and flow, I am the deep sea, but you are swimming towards the sun.
The deep sea is a fortress of life, where things that cannot live in the bright and shiny world find safety and solace. They are the secrets of the world, mostly unseen by humans. Many assumed that not much lives in the deep sea, some 1800 metres below. But science has proved them wrong, for the deep sea is teeming with life and has a constant temperature, unaffected by the planet’s seasons or weather patterns.
That is my love for you – the sweet child born of me. I am your deep sea, unaffected by the life and events beyond ourselves, and a constant and infinite place where you never need to be unsure of me. I am the deep sea, the trunk of the tree, and I will always be.
Whatever it is you need to be, however you need to take on the world and see, as you swim towards the light of life or reach up and unfurl your leaves towards the sun, know that you can always return to me. No backsies-swapsies-or-deals required. I promise to keep every secret, love you past every pain and forge ahead into life committed to understanding first, and questioning second.
I am the deep sea.
The trunk of the tree.
And now you are eleven,
An incredibly big number to be.
Badum Belaxing. Adam for nightum. X