Dear Julia

“Thanks Dad for the ride” it’s just over a kilometer to school and normally Julia walks to school, as a year 11  Julia is 15 years old and tomorrow she turns 16 with all that being 16 means.  We told her a while ago that at 16 she gets to make 16 out of the 20 big decisions that she needs to in life.  Don’t ask me what they are as I don’t have a list however that is probably a good thing. If you are a parent you can work that out but I digress back to the conversation.  Julia was starting early this morning as she had choir.  I replied to her “thanks for the ride” it’s my pleasure to support you in a passion.

Julia has been really enjoying choir, we had the opportunity to listen to her sing with the rest of her choir, a lovely Latin piece and we were pleasantly surprised to hear an accomplished performance.  It is not the only passion project she has taken on this year, a Ukulele gifted for Christmas has been tamed from a stringed fly swatter to a musical instrument.  She can often be heard practicing and easily recognised tunes emanate from her room, (and other places).

We know when Julia is happy because she sings loudly and she is very active, moves quickly and is…well loud.  We often wondered because of her loudness whether she was deaf, she spoke loudly, you could tell she was in the room, “inside voice please Julia” was a refrain often heard.  Julia’s enthusiasm for life could be mistaken for disruptive behaviour at school, she has an inquiring mind, a quick intellect, a keen sense of the ridiculous and an ability to laugh at herself (and with others). As a secondary teacher I know that the step up from year to 10 to year 11 is quite big; tests, essays and exams matter from here on in. A not achieved actually can have consequences at this level.

Julia achieved somewhere in the middle the last year or so, a good effort that I was happy with however this year she has set herself a goal, she doesn’t want achieved, merit is what she is aiming for. Whilst she has a reasonable choice of subjects at school, three are core, English science and math.  Now English is not a problem for Julia, she loves it, math and science well her relationship is conflicted. “I can’t do science” was her lament and “what’s the point in knowing about photosynthesis” and “why do we not learn how a mortgage works?” was a question she asked of her teacher once.  I was able to answer her questions about why she needed math however as to science well I just said that’s how it is. Julia bounced in last night, guess what “I got an excellence in science”, fantastic news and a great result for a fantastic young woman.

Julia has had a few obstacles to overcome I won’t talk about these however she has made great strides and is learning some of the secrets to success, procrastination is not one of those things.  Julia is learning that she has to plan and to be organised at school and home.  She is learning that some decisions are better than others, and that life is not always easy.  I am learning not to protect her so much, being the last child at home I am probably a bit protective towards her and a little reluctant to let her go.  Not unusual I know, it has been the same with all of my children however nothing unusual in a Dad being protective.

The thing I have been enjoying is watching her mature, making her own decisions, forming her own opinions, analysing situations and experiencing new things.  Some of those are her passion, a recent trip to watch live theatre was memorable for her and excited her.  Watching her admire the skill (and physique) of a rugby player. Damian McKenzie is a new All Black (National Sportsmen) she enjoys watching him play and in the process she is learning a lot of things, about rugby, referees and life in general. In short she is becoming a woman and I am privileged to see her transition from a girl into a beautiful young woman.

I love my daughter fiercely and it goes without saying I would lay my life down for her.  I love her sense of humour, her passion for life, the cups of tea that she brings us in the morning, her musical passion, her innocence, her love for other people.  I love her laughter, her compassion. Sure there are some things that I wish were different however I am sure that there are things in my life that she would live to see changed.  I know that in bringing her up I have undoubtedly made mistakes and probably will continue to do so however she has a forgiving nature and I can talk with her and she listens and is learning to take responsibility for her actions and her life, as I have taken responsibility.

The best thing about this is I no longer am alone in this.  I am honored and blessed to have met and married someone who has taken not only me into her life but also Julia.  Margaret is actively investing her time and energy into Julia and it has been delightful to see the love between these two grow.  So I post this tonight a present for my daughter, my hope is that she knows that she is so dearly loved and treasured.  Happy Birthday Julia, you are precious.

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