I’m not sure if FD (Favourite Daughter) will read this – let us hope not, for she will doubtless want to make some edits – however I make no apology for the blog being all about her, for it is her birthday this week, and although I am in no position to be a neutral observer, she just gets better every year. Fact.
FD’s birthday needs marking for lots of reasons…and naturally writing this blog will also put the wind up Favourite Son because he will now be dreading the sharpening of my keyboard in his direction for September. Your time will come, FS; be afraid, be very afraid.
24 years ago it indeed turns out to be blessing that we had FD christened; christening vows make it very clear to anyone in the vicinity of the church font, that children are on loan to parents – our job is just to nudge them in the right direction – oh, and pay for their upkeep. For once – and perhaps unwittingly – I must have paid attention, for I look at FD now and see this brave, honest adventurer and I marvel that I share the same gene pool.
Before discussing some of FD’s natural talents, I should first point out her latent modesty, for each talent highlighted below will come as a total surprise to her; big headed she is not. (Talent No. 1: Being Modest).
Talent No. 2 (this are not in any order of merit, by the way): Being Stylish.
I always knew FD was going to have great fashion sense; I remember looking after a friend’s children one school holiday and as her 5 year old son arrived in our back garden, he turned to 4 year old FD, ignored her new Barbie pink mule slippers and said, ‘Is that a new bikini you’re wearing?’. I felt it was a little early to start any fear-mongering advice about deflecting attention from older men, but it was clear we would have our work cut out when she was older.
From a young age FD would save her pocket money up for weeks to buy one wardrobe-changing item and within minutes that item would be trending among her school mates. This gave FD little pleasure because she didn’t want to blend in and couldn’t see this behaviour as a compliment to her good taste. Her friends were likely to race out and buy the very same item, in the very same colour. If only influencers had been a ‘thing’ back then, we could have had a child prodigy on our hands…and FD’s fashion tweaks would have been self-financing.
FD’s Head of House wasn’t quite as positive about her fashion flair: ‘Uniforms are not here to be customised, young lady’. It was ever thus. I have to say, I didn’t give the school much parental support on this – it felt cruel to make teenage girls wear thick, pleated tartan kilts just when they were becoming body conscious. It wasn’t a case of a moment on the lips, a life time on the hips, it was a case of providing each student with an in-built muffin top as soon as they hit puberty. I stand by FD’s relentless rolling up of her skirt waistband and at least showing the world she had legs. Now working as a teacher herself, I sense FD may be experiencing what it is like to be on the other side of the uniform divide.
Talent No. 3: Being Wise.
I can not remember a time when I have been able to share my own wisdom with FD. She just seems to have been born a wise child and the supposed wisdom of my years has always been surplus to requirements. There is no side to her, she never bears grudges and seems always to have a capacity to walk in someone else’s shoes (sometimes I wish she would stop raiding my own wardrobe to do this). The number of times she has had to remind me to ‘just breathe’ and not to ‘overthink’ is quite humiliating. (I am a part time yoga teacher, for goodness sake). Sometimes when I am having a deep conversation with my 93 year old mother, mum will interject with, ‘what would FD Do?’. Consulting FD is the family equivalent of consulting the Oracle. She never fails us.
Talent No 4: Being Bendy
I am only a part-time yoga teacher because FD is so flipping bendy. If she hadn’t been so ready to flex we would never have considered doing our yoga teachers’ training together to distract her from her Master’s dissertation (I’ll sneak a Talent No. 5 in there – no need to elaborate, she is just as academic as she is bendy). I think it is one of my life highlights to have co-taught our first ever yoga class together and to have shared each other’s nerves – we were not doing much breathing that day, I can tell you. Anyway, she may not be doing much yoga teaching at the moment, but I’ll happily share my yoga mat with her at the drop of a down dog if she ever chooses to bend in the direction of the studio again.
Talent No 5: Being Curious
Another highlight of my life (message to self, this blog is meant to be about FD) was travelling to Kenya with FD. She might not share my joy in this delight having since gone on to do travelling properly (with someone her own age and with a proper gap year rucksack). However, I still look at those Out in Africa days of tent sharing (sorry about my snoring, love) with fondness. I loved FD for going to that orphanage on her own and being too polite to turn down that stewed, milky tea they offered. If she hadn’t been so lovely, she would have poured it into a flower bed when no-one was looking, but being the polite bod she is, she downed it in one and spent the following day wishing we had a bathroom on the campsite. Again, she made no fuss, and because of that, was mortified when word of her incapacitation reached the Baptist Minister in charge of the orphanage. He insisted on visiting our camp site to pray over FD… she just wanted to crawl into the shade and lie there looking green, but she allowed the pastor to have his moment. Bless her – and he certainly did, in a very evangelical style. (It seemed to work … she was fine next day and it was then my turn to take one for Team Vomit.)
Talent No 6: Being Witty
I am just back from a celebratory early birthday lunch with FD and have come away with a dirty big grin on my face, because she is just so whip-sharp witty. She doesn’t realise this of course. She gamely puts up with other people’s ‘dad jokes’ and corn, but easily rifts with her brother as they banter through lunch, and I don’t think this is on account of the MASSIVE glass of pink birthday gin she is drinking. She is as witty as she is beautiful (#very) and I wish I didn’t have to leave her in London.
However in London she will need to stay for she is about to experience for the first time what it is like to be at the front of a classroom on her birthday. To get through her big day she will need modesty, style, wisdom, curiosity, flexibility and wit. Thank goodness she is already gifted in all of these. So gifted in fact, it is no surprise that I have decided not to buy her a present this year. She already has everything she needs. Happy birthday Favourite Girl; what a blessing you are.