Friday, November 24, 2006

Trading Places*

My darling daughter,

Today, you turn thirteen.

I thought long and hard about what to get you for this birthday, this birthday which marks your first step into adolescence. The date itself means little; your rapidly expanding mind and your changing body tell me that you are now on your way to womanhood. Still, a birthday is a birthday and birthdays mean gifts.

So what does one gift a butterfly half out of a cocoon?

Butterflies are beautiful but delicate, prone to getting their wings caught and torn, as they flit from flower to flower. And my beautiful, delicate daughter, I would not want you to be hurt in any way.

So I give you, the gift of caution.

You are now at an age where your mind is full of questions. I will try to answer them as best I can.

You ask me why it is I worry so much about you. When I know that you are now a whole thirteen years old and can look after yourself.

I worry, sweetheart, because I know that you don't. I know that you always see the good in people, their honest hearts, their pure souls, and I almost don't want to tell you the truth and have you lose your faith.

You ask me why caution has to mean hiding your face, your clothes, your body, your identity.

(For a thirteen-year-old, you ask some tricky questions!)

To begin with, I would prefer it if we called it 'protecting' rather than 'hiding'. You hide when you are afraid of something. You protect when you are afraid for.

This will protect you.

There are people in this world who are terrified of change. They have lived their whole lives in a certain way and anything (even if it is a good thing) even slightly removed from this way frightens them terribly. They fear that in this new world, where things are different from how they were in their time, they will have no place. This is not true - for a new place is very different from no place, I think you will agree - but it is very difficult to change minds which are set in stone.

Fear makes people do terrible things, child. This will protect you from the repercussions of that fear.

You ask me how things will ever change if we never even attempt to change them.

(my little revolutionary, my changer of the world. I see so much of my younger self in you!)

I tell you that I want things to change as well, but change takes effort and time and patience.

(and blood and sweat and tears but I want none of those to be yours!)

But mother, won't I feel stifled? What if it's really hot outside?

My child, It might be hot occasionally, it might be uncomfortable but if you look at it as a shield, or an invisibility cloak, well, that changes things doesn't it? Can you see how it will be? You can walk around the city all day, anywhere you please and no-one need know it's you! Can you imagine the freedom? You get to decide who you want to meet, have conversation with, befriend. Also, now that you're on your way to becoming a woman, why it works as well as Athena's shield against all that unwelcome attention!

How long have you worn one, mother?
Why, all my life, child! Ever since I turned thirteen, exactly the age you are now.

"So...I can be just like you?", you ask me with a smile on your face.

"Yes, sweetheart, you can be just like me", I reply as I hand you your gift of caution, your shield of black silk, with a small lacework window to the world.

* is a writing exercise** on Caferati (where I have, till date *never* been able to figure out, whether or not I am a member (sorry, Peter!). I take 'technologically-challenged' to new heights, as you can see).

** And I don't think I've managed to do what the exercise intended either, but whoever said this blog was supposed to be a showcase of fine writing? Wasn't me!


Vi said...

Tragically sad but quite beautiful nonetheless.

J. Alfred Prufrock said...

Starts off sappy, gets (much) better, but would pack more punch if shorter.


Chronicus Skepticus said...

Vi: Thank you. :)

Honest criticism! Golly, that's a first! :)

But seriously, thank you. Oh and I completely agree, by the way (the butterfly bit is just...eeuw).

Mistress of Magic said...

hey! was just blog hopping.. there is this amazing song by Lee Ann Womack.. which is perfect as a life lesson for someone starting out on a new phase in life...
"I hope you dance" by Lee Ann Womack.

It was tragically covered (murdered) recently by Ronan Keating