Can you get to grips with it, my little one? You are now a teenager !! It is a life changing event, or so we are conditioned to believe. Stories of teenage angst fill our television screens. All the drama of the seven years in between twelve and twenty makes us believe that these are life changing times. Maybe, maybe, that is true. Maybe, it is your turn to be the teenage drama queen....
I remember the day in hospital when you were a new-born, our first born. The joy in our hearts, the buzz of visiting relatives and friends, the happiness of your grandparents, you should have seen that excitement. As your father, I was overwhelmed. I felt great joy but also big responsibility. A responsibility I did not fully understand. You were a day old when Holland was playing Italy in the Euro 2000 semi-final. I was in those days a big supporter of Oranje and I slipped away from the hospital to watch that match. I remember Holland lost the match, but what I recollect much more vividly is your mother's anger at my irresponsibility, abandoning both of you for a little bit of football. How irresponsible....But then you and I know, how much I love watching football. At a time when fathers gave up watching television because kids wanted to watch cartoons, the exact opposite was happening in our home. You gave up cartoons for me to watch my football and sometimes, my Formula 1. How irresponsible.... but hey, I hope that is not changing just because it your turn for all the drama.
I remember how I was initially scared to carry you as a baby. I was worried I would hurt you. I remember I stopped myself from kissing you, worried I would pass on germs. I felt a thrill in my heart when I was with you unlike anything I had experienced, but I also carried the burden of expectations of a modern day parent. I understood it is important to raise your child well. But the pressures and expecation of training your child to handle the competitive world was irksome. I grappled with that as you grew up. The first thing was about getting an admission in the "right" school. It was then about being enrolled for the additional life skill activities, be it dance, abacus, drama, painting, taekwondo and so on. How can I be sure my little girl wants to do any of that? But, someone told me, if you don't enroll her for those classes, how will she or you ever know what she is good at? Really!! If she was going to spend all her time in those classes, what about her precious time with us I thought. What about the little moments of togetherness that are to be sacrificed in this mad rush for life skills? You will find your destiny, you will find the dream you want to chase. I don't need to find it for you, but I am there to help anytime you need me. And yes, that is not changing just because its your turn for all the drama.
And through these years, as I rushed along madly making my career, I have had to stay away from you, because of late night deadlines and also because of short and long travels. I have missed you so much on these days. I have realized along the way that my life is not about my career, it is about the ones I love. And for every bad day and equally for the good ones at work, my only inspiration has been to come back home and see your face. Seeing you at the start of the day as I walked you to the school bus, gave me enough reason for the day ahead. Seeing you at the end of the day sleeping as I came back from work, gave me enough peace to forget the worries of the day gone by. You are the light of my life and you can be the same to many others. Remember that and persist through the ups and downs that happen in life. Yes, drama happens, but the role you play is your own choice.
As you have grown into this beautiful teenage girl, I have been learning to be a father. And I have enjoyed every bit of it. So, my teenage drama queen, bring it on!! Ready for the big adventure? Yes, along the way be sure you don't forget to have fun. Along the way make sure you have the courage to find and chase your dream. And most importantly, make the choices that will light up the lives of folks around you. In between all this, if there are times when you need someone to lean on, you know where to look. I will be waiting. God bless and Happy Birthday!!