Dear G, you never listen to us, because you think you have incompetent, irresponsible, bungling beach bums for parents. Crazy people who preach alternative philosophies and live life as if everyday is their last. You are probably right, but hear us out before you rush off to do the ten thousand and one things in your busy life.
Life is not a race but a journey. Don’t be in a rush to get on the superhighway. Because you will lose out on lots of beautiful things that you will never be able to find again, however long and hard you search for them in the future. Things of real value, things of today, that will never come your way in this lifetime again.
Your father had voluntarily left his well-paid job to live on an island in a country he has never lived in before, simply to give you magical and memorable final years of your childhood, and to give you the best opportunities possible of achieving your dream to be England’s football captain. Dreams should be achieved, but never at the expense of the things that really matter in life.
We never saw giving up our careers as a sacrifice for you. In fact, it is a privilege. You are only lent to us for a very short while. 18 years, to be exact. Or maybe only 16. We intend to use those precious years to give you a long, happy and idyllic childhood so that you have a strong base to build your future successes on. There is no substituting these strong foundations. They are what that make you strong on the inside. Believe me, I know all about it. I still run home to Portsmouth, to my parents’ home, when the going gets tough. I still call on my brothers. And most of all, I only have to close my eyes to see my young happy self again, walking on the beaches of Southern England, going on the slow train to school with my brother or sitting in my mother’s sunny kitchen. I know I am safe, so long as I have a mind to remember those beautiful memories of that part of my life, a time of innocence, carefreeness and untrammelled faith. Days before the harshness of the adult world took away my kaleidoscope eyes. Days that will never come this way again. It’s not an age thing, but cynicism, a certain weariness, a hardened shell, that prevent those layers ever to be accessed again.
Several years ago, walking with my father on the deserted Southsea seafront on Christmas night through the closed up fairground, I thought wistfully, “I wish I had not grown up so quickly.” Because my father, with his head full of white hair, arthritic knees, high prostate count and two major heart attacks, will not be here forever. Just as yours won’t be, G.
Have you noticed why he is so whole-heartedly embracing all the time he has with you, the way he jumps in at the first opportunity, a stalker almost? Because he knows. Because he knows that our time with you is finite.
Like your brothers and sister, you all are the most precious gifts that God and Life gave us. We often talk in awe (still!) about how and why we had been chosen to parent these beautiful beings. After all, we were just two ordinary people who went to the pub one evening, sat on the beach, and accidentally made a baby. We didn’t have a clue how to be a parent, how to be responsible parents, how to be ‘good’ parents. All we know – and we know that deeply – is that we must give you all a good happy home and a magical childhood, so that you always know that you are safe, and that life is good on the whole, no matter how dark the present is.
So G, this is what we are giving you. Pieces of ourselves. So that however long you may live, you carry our love with you always, and the deep knowing that there is a happy place in the world for you. You have been to that happy place: it’s called your childhood. This type of transmission cannot be hurried, it is in the life we give you everyday. And so, your father and I would like to say this to you: successes in the outside world can wait, there is a time and place for everything. But something infinitely more important is happening at home right now, in the moments we walk by the sea, in the picnics on the beach, in the evenings we sit at home quietly reading, in our long drives in the car, in the conversations and in the everyday life with your parents who are dedicating their every waking hour to making the last years of your childhood magical. Don’t rush life, slow down, and enjoy today.