Monday, 11 November 2013

To the Mouse, who turns ten today

Ten years.

A lot has changed for me since you turned up, dear Mouse. 

I led a busy life but without love, then, and assumed it would be forever thus. In fact the night you were starting the journey into the world I was on a blind date, having dinner with a chap so dull that regular sorties for fags and telephone updates about your mother's contractions from my mother were definitely the highlights of the evening. 

You finally made it out and I got to meet you. And a weird lightbulb went on in my head: suddenly there were children everywhere, babies, toddlers, first graders. This is the new batch, the new model, the world renewing itself, I would say to myself, while gazing at them in wonder, like I didn't know. But I didn't, hadn't known. 

It is impossible, when you are young, to look at children and see your replacement, the next generation, the future bosses, the future creators, consumers, patients, victims, criminals, poets and fools.

So when you arrived the things I did and my place in the word started to matter a little less but the stuff that happened in the world, the sorry state it was in, started to matter a lot. 

I lay in bed, stared out of a plane window into the night thinking about this, willing it, the world, until then just a badly lit stage for my brilliance, to be a better, juster, more gentle place, so it would be safe for you. 

You who were suddenly in it, so perfect and so complete, like you had always belonged to us, been part of us, your atoms and our atoms the same matter, launched at different speed across the universe. So that, all of a sudden, I couldn't look at my father without seeing you, or look at you without seeing your mother, or look in the mirror without seeing you staring back at me. 

Ten years. So, how was it for you?

Let me guess (shall I guess? You always want me to guess something these days..)The first ten years were a dream, not too unlike the slumber of the unborn. 

You are awake now - just. Everything is new and absorbing and yet you're often bored and time takes an age and a half to arrive, pass, go anywhere.

The next ten years and the ten after that will be an eternity, a lifetime, spent on a dizzying roller-coaster which suddenly mutates into the slowest of the slow slow slow-boats going nowhere, at all, ever, and then you are back climbing, climbing, climbing in the air -gasping, gulping- then barreling down again, wind in your hair, tears in your eyes, relief, exhilaration, laugher. Enjoy the ride, the fast bits and the slow, I beseech you.

Then the heavy decades begin, years will slot down with a dull thud, like £1 coins in the dark slit of time, faster and faster.

I'm not there yet but I suspect, or rather I surmise - from experience so far and observation - that towards the end there will be much kicking of the machine, to get scarcer and ever more inferior candy until the last coin is spent. 

Before you know it, before you know that it's the last, before you've had time to take the time to think (as you will have promised yourself a million times) about your life. Curtains. Silence. Discarded wrappings and no change left behind.

I realise how completely meaningless this would sound to a 10 year old boy like you. So let me recap and put this in a language you can understand:

Guess who my favourite little person in the world is? By what percentage? (50 per cent? 85 per cent? What do you say? 100 per cent?). Can you list any or all the ways in which I love you, can you? And finally, and for oh, the fourteen thousandth time, guess who's auntie's sweet Mouse?

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