My girl is turning nine.
This means it’s almost exactly nine years since I looked over at her Dad and murmured, through a post-anaesthetic haze, “Why are you holding that baby?”
These have been the best nine years. They really have. For all the bits that were hard work, or scary, or stressful, there have been a million more moments of love, and weirdness, and having fun.
When I was Flea’s age, I was a lot like my daughter. People say we even look alike (which I love – Flea’s my first relative I’m related to, so this stuff is all new to me). But my Mum likes to say that Flea is more happy-go-lucky than I was at the same age. She says it’s like Flea has a “bubble of joy” inside her, and I know exactly what she means.
I spent my early childhood in foster care before I joined our family, and that experience made me a little more cautious than other kids; maybe a bit more serious at times. But Flea? Flea is a thrill seeker. She’s rarely serious. She flings herself into life at a hundred miles an hour. She has an unshakeable belief that the world is one big adventure, just waiting to be enjoyed.
I love that about her.
At nine years old, Flea is still bursting at the seams with happy. She’s ridiculously quick to laugh, to make a joke, join in with a stupid game, or sing at the top of her voice.
She has a passion for words and books, and races through them at a million miles an hour. But she’s easily distracted so she’s always reading five books at a time, as well as writing her own stories; endless graphic novels about wizards and robots and bad guys and hero narrators.
Flea loves to swim, and to play games, but she loves those things for their own sake, having no interest whatsoever in competing or being better than anyone else. She forgot to mention when she won her swimming gala this year. And I’m confident mine was the only child singing to herself during the hurdles race at sports day.
Maybe one day, Flea will worry that my expectations for her are too high. But truth be told, for now at least, I sort of just want her to stay where she is. To grow older without growing up quite yet. For just a little while longer, to stay in that bubble of happiness where everything is fun, nothing is impossible, and tomorrow’s just another adventure waiting to happen.
Happy birthday, Flea!