Now You Are Eight

Koh lanta

Suddenly and incredibly, you are eight! Alex, how our world changed when you were born on that bright Saturday afternoon, eight years ago.

Among my favourite things is spying on you. Isn’t this funny? You and Max love spy games, but Dad loves spying on you. What do I see when you’re not looking, but I am?

I see so much that makes me, and Mum proud. You’re funny and alert. Like a puppy, you play with creative energy. You love your friends, and they love you too. You like sharing stories, but listen when people tell you stuff too. For you, games and fun must be fair. You don’t like it if others are unkind to you, or those you care about. Because it’s important, you take a stand. This makes you a leader, and we love this about you.

I’ve so many memories.

We’re on Koh Lanta. It’s a fresh, clean morning and the sky’s holiday blue. I’m on a sun lounge out the front of the resort, looking across the sparkling sea towards the Strait of Malacca. You and Max are on the flawless, golden sand. Buckets, spades, toys. Boys and brothers. Do you remember this? I watched you; long-limbed like a giraffe, and miraculous, as if born of the tropical sun itself.

And later, on the same trip- our last while living in Singapore, we do a boat tour to five islands! In the marine warmth, snorkelling above the coral, Mum and Max are bobbing about on the azure ocean, while off on our own, and peering down through our masks, we see it. Silently, and like a whip cracking in slow-motion, is a sea-snake! It’s there for mere seconds, and only we saw it, together, in our private universe. Instantly we sit up, beaming

Did you see it Dad?

Sure did. What’d you think?

So cool.

A momentary sight, but for us, stronger than two electrons in perpetual orbit. For someone as curious about nature and dangerous creatures as you, it’s a thrilling highlight of our three years in Asia.

Last Friday, in the afternoon sunshine, you’re in your blue Strikers shirt and cricket cap. We’re at Glenelg Oval, and there’s plastic yellow stumps and kids, learning and playing, learning and playing. You’re batting. I’m on a bench by the boundary, spying on you. Again!

The bowler pitches it on a good length, but outside the wicket. In a fluid, looping motion, you step into it, and swing the bat. It’s an on-drive, and possibly having seen an Australian cricketer like David Warner do this, you go down onto one knee. It’s cute, but also shows me how carefully you take in the details of your world, how keen you are to do your best and display some robust mastery. You stay low and hold your position, watching until, just in front of me, the ball jumps the rope. Your first boundary! Certainly a treasured event in many years of loving cricket.

Now finally, back we travel, to 2008 when you’re only three months old. It’s May, Mothers’ Day; fetching and warm like a hug. We’re at Wattle Reserve, by the beach, with a picnic of olives, breads and dips, dolmades; unhurried food for a late autumn lunch. You’re there on the rug, in the breezy, timelessness. Smiling, blue eyes alert, enchanted. It’s a movie, a love song, our lifetime distilled. It’s a dreamlike afternoon.

So, as you begin your ninth year, I wanted to find a few moments among the guitars and the bikes, the barbeques and the blur of the cruelly rushing weeks to reminisce on how astonishing our world became on that bright Saturday. The day you arrived; the gorgeous, clever, amazing gift of you, arrived.

glenelg oval

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