NC turned twenty-one last week and although I keep tormenting myself with questions such as ‘where did the time go’ and ‘how can I possibly have a twenty-one year old daughter?’, there’s no escaping the fact that 1. Somehow we created a beautiful young woman, and 2. We’re getting fucking old.
She celebrated the key to the door on Saturday night, although much to the old man’s chagrin she hasn’t left home yet, nor has she any intention of doing so.
And her party wasn’t exactly the sophisticated glamor-fest I had secretly hoped for, with formal style dresses, up-dos and killer heels. That’s not NC’s style. It was a Marvel-inspired party, full of super-heroes, face paint, masks and dastardly comic book villains, and NC blew everyone else’s costume out of the park in an uncharacteristically raunchy little outfit that Miley would have been proud of, with NB at her side as The Joker.
The old man and I reluctantly wore capes.
By the few sober accounts that we have, a good night was had by all, and even Kurt held his own in a crowd of twenty-something crazies; although it was obvious to all our guests that his costume irritated his sensory issues and the sight of Batman continually rearranging his balls as his trousers rode up his arse and dissected his man parts all night was a hot topic of debate.
But he also put together a video for his sister – his special birthday gift to her – a thoughtful collection of all her fugliest childhood photos, which culminated in a video of her snorting like a pig. It was set to Aerosmith’s ‘I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing’ and it proved a strangely emotional experience to watch your child grow up on television, in the space of three minutes; to relive all those good moments that it’s so easy to forget in the fast pace of life.
I should have recognized NC’s birth for what it was – the precursor to a journey of evolving dysfunctionality. The writing was splattered all over the wall.
For rather like the nativity story, where the family struggled to find an Inn, (Wotif can’t have been around back then), NC’s arrival wasn’t plain sailing and certainly not the model, parenting manual moment I had set down in my birth plan. Perhaps it was a foolish decision at the end of my last day of work, as a final fling and fuck off to a flat stomach, to go clubbing with friends – as you do when you’re 38 weeks pregnant. But don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t twerking and gyrating on the dance floor, but rather anchored to a bar stool all night by the sheer voluminosity of the smallest baby in the world, encased in the biggest belly in the world.
So when my waters broke at 2am and the old man was too pissed to drive, and I ended up behind the wheel and then labored while he snored loudly in an armchair beside me, it seemed a little unfair.
‘Let him sleep,’ said the midwife, as I planned the speed of his death with each contraction.
Our daughter has never held back since that day – she has always been determined to make her mark. The naïve who don’t know her well, mistake her for being shy, but she has always possessed an enviably scary inner confidence in her own abilities. She has always depended on logic rather than emotion and strives forwards, rarely looking back.
Kind of part human, part arachnid.
For she can be calculating in her judgments and acerbically accurate in her wit. It is fair to say that a pertinent comment from NC can knock you sideways quicker than a sudden bolt of lightening, yet, as she has matured into a young woman and experienced the trials and tribulations of her own relationships, her scientific mind has been forced to embrace the primitive concepts of feelings and emotions, and she has evolved into a thoughtful, generous and loving adult.
My best friend.
She will never be a graceful or elegant young woman; she is more a socially awkward Bridget Jones or the loose-tongued Elizabeth Bennet, her icon from Pride and Prejudice, than the stereotypical heroine.
She’s not really the touchy-feeling type, either – although she swears she is trying to learn and whenever she catches me stressed and prostrate in the comfort zone of my bed, she lies her full body weight on top of mine and pushes down REALLY HARD because she read somewhere that it relaxes tension.
NC reserves her hidden tanks of love for the few people she deems have warranted them in her life. The Princess is at the top of her list – they both count loyalty as the most important trait of any relationship. NC cannot suffer fools with her petrifying intelligence, she can’t even pretend to tolerate them, yet she can laugh at herself when she still struggles to spell easy words correctly, trips in high heels or stammers when she reads aloud. She is a confusing hybrid of the old man and I. She is the nerdiness of his Peter Parker and the silliness of the Dawn French in me.
She has the key to the door now but will always have the key to my heart.