Monday, 9 November 2009

An 18-year-old daughter? Me? I am far too young/....

If you were to ask people around me to list my most irritating faults, I am pretty certain that one thing that would crop up frequently is that I am forever banging on about the fact that I don't think I look my age. No matter what my passport or driving licence tells me in my own warped mind, I am convionced the mirror tells a different story.

However, sometimes something creeps up and bites you on the big bottom of life that cruelly destroys your self-delusion about your age.

And that happened to me last weekend when my eldest 'child', my 'little' girl, Charlotte, was 18. Yes, I am now the the father of an 18-year-old and no pretence that I look young enough to host Blue Peter can escape that fact.

It really is a sobering moment to realise your child is no longer your 'child'. She can see the same films as I do (not that we have the same tastes), vote in the same elections (not that she has the interest that I do) and do practically anything she wants really without ever uttering the immortal words 'Dad, can I.....?'

Actually that isn't strictly true. As every parent of a teenager will know, you become a taxi driver – and so, last Saturday night, my role was to help ferry her and her friends off to Poo Nah's Nah's in Bath. Nightclubs hey...and all this from that sweet little well-mannered girl who only a few years ago (in my memory) was taking her first dancing lessons at the age of just three.


Nowadays, in the world of social networking sites it is so easy to track the length of people's lives and learn all about them easily but for me, and the rest of the family, our pondering over Charlotte's 'big 1-8' has still been centred around digging out old photographs of baby competitions, first days at school, first holidays and so forth. It has been, as our American cousins say, emotional.

Perhaps the best way of tracking that time, however, is to see how different the world was when Charlotte was born (in 1991) to today.

For a start, the aforementioned social networking sites obviously didn't exist. It is amazing, considering their influence, to learn that Facebook is only six years old (and in reality was nothing like we know it today until two or three years ago), Twitter is just three years old and even the supposed 'grand daddy' of them all, Youtube, is astonishingly just four years old. How many other four-year-olds can genuinely be considered a world phenomenon?

Oh and as for Wikipedia (nine years old), if I had wanted to give Charlotte that much info as a birth gift I would have had to pay £200 for a book of dusty old encyclopedias – which would have been outdated the moment after purchase.

Those 18 years have, of course, seen many epic, often frightening worldwide events but it is probably this dramatic age of communication change that has characterised this past generation.

Many of you, may, for example be reading this online on my blog (hi there!) rather than in print and with so many developments of this kind happening so quickly one can only imagine how different the communications scene will look when one day Charlotte talks about her 'eldest's' 18th.

By then the world may not, for instance, be 'run' by the US and Europe as we pretend it is now but by the 'BRIC' countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China, the next global powers apparently). And I defy anyone to predict what life will be like then because no one, but no one, could have predicted life now the day 'Lotte' took her first breath.

So, a belated very happy birthday 'young' Charlotte. No dad in the world could be prouder of this but please don't be offended if you overhear me say: 'An 18-year-old daughter? When I look this young? Impossible....'

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