All sorts of beliefs make up my life. I believe for instance in the laws of maths – one and one make two and so on. In physics ( or at least the bits I understand). In God. But on this occasion I want to talk about my belief that if you bring up children to the best of your ability the choices that they make will be the right ones for them, even when you have to bite your tongue or cross your fingers when they have decisions to make.
When my oldest daughter was born I knew that there would be problems. The doctors had warned me fairly early on that she was unlikely to survive and I had had to fly thousands of miles to a safer place for her birth. Even then things didn’t go well. I started in labor o.k. and then when she was well on the way she decided to retreat and go into what is known as transverse i.e. wedged firmly across my pelvis. We always joke that she is no good at geography. When she was born she howled the place down at the indignity of being pulled out, then she spotted her meal supply and all was suddenly silent and we had chance at last to glory in our beautiful daughter.
The doctors however didn’t think she had any chance of survival. The prognosis was awful. She had not one but several life threatening conditions. They said we should go home and forget her.
That was 21 years ago. The diagnosis was more or less right but the prognosis wasn’t. Jo spent the next 14 years proving doctors wrong. We had a child that needed frequent trips to hospital and multiple operations – at one point 11 in 12 weeks. People think you should mollycoddle such a child. I’d like to see them try. We’ve had to stand back as she chose to climb a 150 foot rock wall, fly to Italy where she went on a preaching tour in temperatures of over 100 degrees, go to Gambia where every day she tracked animals through the jungle game park in the early hours before the tourists were up and about.
She chose her college not for its academic vigour, but for its situation. Like Beatrix Potter she discovered the Lake District and cannot understand why anyone would want to live elsewhere.
More recently she obtained her B.Sc and soon after she landed her dream job – as a zoo keeper. We could cope with that. We thought she would be looking after cuddly little animals – she is only 4 foot 10 tall. They’ve got lots – meercats, lemurs and all the rest. Last week she announced quite casually that she has been asked to take responsibility for the tigers. We are terrified for her, but this is what she wants and she has always known what she wanted and what she was capable of doing.
Someday soon she will bring some young man home and say ‘Hi, This is ……’ and once again we will fear for her, but at the same time realise that we can’t make her decisions for her, but being the person she is she will make good ones.
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