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5:44pm on Wednesday, 21st March, 2012:



Today it's my younger daughter's 18th birthday. She's no longer child, she's an adult. I can legally kick her out onto the street and there's not a damned thing she can do about it. Well, other than murder me, obviously.

On her elder sister's 18th birthday, she (that is, her sister) was given a box. Inside the box was a stash of things we'd put away during the first five years of her life. There was a copy of every national UK newspaper published on the day she was born, plus birthday cards, things she'd made at nursery school, poems written by her grandmother, medical records from the hospital — miscellaneous things like that. For my elder daughter, it was a surprise; for my younger daughter, well, she now knew that she had a box in the attic for when she was 18. Today, her being 18, she got it.

Look, here are her first pair of proper shoes:

The most memorable thing in my elder daughter's box was probably the letter I wrote her. You never know what life has in store for you, so the day before her fifth birthday I wrote her a letter describing how much I loved her, so that if anything happened to me before she grew up, well, at least she'd know. Many people don't live to see all their children reach adulthood — my brother among them — but I'd taken pen to paper (er, fingers to keyboard), just in case. Then I sealed the letter away for when she was old enough to read it.

Of course, I did the same thing for my younger daughter. Today, she got to open her letter.

Given that she was only five when I wrote it, I was surprised to see how much of it was still true. It could almost have been written yesterday. Only the bit about getting all my hugs from her when she was little because she wouldn't want to give me any when she grew up was wrong. I still feel all the feelings I'd written about all those years ago. I felt them as I read the letter, too.

I'm glad I did see her reach adulthood, but I'm also glad I wrote the letter. It's something my daughter will always have to remember me by, even if I get struck dead by a meteorite tomorrow. You can say things to a 5-year-old that it's hard to say to an 18-year-old, but you mean them just the same. This way, I got to tell her at 18 by telling her at 5.

She wasn't as interested in the newspapers as her sister was, though. I wasted a few quid buying those...

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Copyright © 2012 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).