Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Eighteen Quick Years

A momentous day in this household. Started this post at 5.37am and your blogger had been up for a while even then, searching through and finding some old, packed away journals.

Found what I was looking for... a record of my daughter Amber's arrival on the planet eighteen years ago today... 8.47am on 15 June 1993, the Countess Hospital, Chester, UK.

The journal entries give a minute by minute account of the details of Amber's very dramatic entry into the world. Her mum and dad, as first time parents had it all planned. Water birth. Minimal intervention. All this went out the window when the baby chose 'sideways' as her pathway into the outside world.

Looking through the journal - it has a list of times and factual records. I gave Amber her first bath sometime between 10.00am and 1.00pm. I washed her mother's hair. I remember ringing home to Australia and my Great Great Auntie Flo' was staying with my mum and dad... Amber's birth had created five living generations in our tribe.

Between then and now - time has flown. Here's some of the memories that have flashed up in my mind today (with the birthday girl's, in fact birthday woman's permission).

1995 - We had been back in Melbourne over a year. Renting in Richmond, no car. I used to ride Amber to crèche in a baby seat on the back of my bike. Down Lennox Street to Collingwood where I worked. There was a park in front of the high rise flats, always blanketed with seagulls... 'Birdy, Birdy, Birdy' was the daily shout of delight from the little girl on the back of the bike. And dad would join in.

Then there was the day, as a toddler on my hip in the supermarket queue, when Amber showed her zest for learning. The Mighty Lisa and me had thought it important to teach Amber the proper names for the human reproductive parts. The queue was long. Amber looked down the line and saw a man, a woman, a man, two women and a man, in front of us. Leaning out from your blogger's hip and pointing in a confident fashion she tested her biological knowledge... in Safeway... in full voice.

"PENIS, VAGINA, PENIS, VAGINA, VAGINA, PENIS and daddy then there's you and you have a PENIS!" Triumphantly she smiled and stretched out her arms, having proudly declared her knowledge to the world.

Great parenting idea we had there. There was simply nowhere to hide. Thankfully the people of the queue found it hilarious.

Saturday 18 September, 1999 - MCG. Preliminary Final Day. A bloke named Anthony Koutoufides put in an individual performance that was to steal our beloved team's destiny. Amber, six years old, was asleep on my lap from late in the third quarter... hard to argue against Amber being the most relaxed bomber fan out of the 80,519 people there that day. She woke up just in time to learn that Essendon went down to Carlton by a point. The following year, we shared premiership joy trouncing the Demons.

One time, she had to deal with some stuff with one of her friends. Amber was the shortest in this group of girls - five friends (still all mates today) who've been affectionately dubbed the 'rat pack'. I remember telling her that it is better to take things head on - talk direct to the person you have a problem with, not about them, behind their back. Let them know how you feel (an important technique for anyone). She did it. Spoke her mind with her friend and sorted out the problem. I haven't forgotten it, nor how proud I was of her.

This morning her brother presented a funny and touching note in the birthday card he gave her... he noted that in his life, he had 'learnt a few things' about his sister. Three actually.

#1 Don't bother you in the mornings'; #2 Don't go into your room; #3 You are a very lovely, beautiful, loyal, fun, caring and passionate person and that I am lucky to be your brother.

That's a pretty cool affirmation from a nearly 15 year old boy.

It is past 9am now as I write. Therefore, right now, that one time 8 Pound 6 Ounce baby (like the old measurements) is sitting her VCE Year 12 Psychology mid-year exam, here in Melbourne, some 10,542 miles from where she took her first breath.

A call came in from her Nana in Chester - her grand-daughter had already headed off to get ready for the exam. She'll ring again later today.

Tonight, we will share a meal at Amber's favourite Indian restaurant - family tradition. First birthday dinner with her boyfriend along (yep, nothing prepares you for that moment either dads... there is no handbook). The time simply has flown. Our daughter is officially an adult. The Mighty Lisa commissioned me with the card writing duties for today...

Dearest Amber.

Officially an adult. We are so proud of the young woman you have become. You are blessed with so much. May you have an adult life that is stunning... that makes a difference.

We love you. Mum & Dad.

We don't take this occasion for granted. We know we are fortunate. It is not a given that every kid makes it to 18. I hope you have some memories of your own to savour as you read this... the funny ones, the moments that make you proud - enjoy them (and feel free to share them in the space below).

The time goes quick.

Bill Jennings