“Fame is rot; daughters are the thing”- J M Barrie

“Picture yourself in a boat on a river

With tangerine trees and marmalade skies

Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly

 A girl with kaleidoscope eyes.”- Lucy in the sky with diamonds (The Beatles)

My life began in 2006. On the 18th of November at 21.43pm to be precise. Even in my body and mind’s state of exhaustion, discomfort and shock the overwhelming feeling of the deepest love penetrated through me and this beautiful little creature which had been placed on my chest. I instantly realised everything I’d achieved previously in my life would now be null and void, after the accomplishment of creating, growing, delivering and now nurturing a tiny wee masterpiece. Gifted to me to teach me the greater meaning of life. Giving me a clearer consciousness of wellbeing and a positive outlook on the value of the human race.

Ruby Muir Scanlan was an angelic baby, I can’t think of a time in her short years where she has caused me too much discomfort or when I’d questioned the way of her behaviour and attitude. I find her captivating to be around, with an astonishingly mature sense of humour. I often stare at her in wonderment, does she realise just how much power of attention she brings upon people? Drawing them in with her beautiful charisma then holding on to them with her hilarious wit and refreshing temperament. If anything, unfortunately Ruby has had to put up with me, my intensity, my stubbornness, my acute mood swings and our huge change in circumstance which she has boldly approached in a commendable manner.

Ruby is a creative kid with the most wicked imagination. She spends her time reading books, writing stories, creating skilful pieces of artwork, taking pictures, making short films, practising guitar and getting lost in her favourite movies which include Matilda, Home Alone and Annie. She spends weekends out playing with friends on what I can only imagine to be exciting adventures, creating tales and memories that will last a lifetime. To my delight Ruby shares my interests in fashion and music and we love nothing more than to put the radio on and dance frantically around our kitchen, killing ourselves with high pitched laughter. Not once did she complain when I decided we could live without television and she easily found other ways to keep herself entertained.

“The most important thing we’ve learned,
So far as children are concerned,
Is never, NEVER, NEVER let
Them near your television set —
Or better still, just don’t install
The idiotic thing at all.
In almost every house we’ve been,
We’ve watched them gaping at the screen.
They loll and slop and lounge about,
And stare until their eyes pop out.
(Last week in someone’s place we saw
A dozen eyeballs on the floor.)
They sit and stare and stare and sit
Until they’re hypnotised by it,
Until they’re absolutely drunk
With all that shocking ghastly junk.
Oh yes, we know it keeps them still,
They don’t climb out the window sill,
They never fight or kick or punch,
They leave you free to cook the lunch
And wash the dishes in the sink —
But did you ever stop to think,
To wonder just exactly what
This does to your beloved tot?
IT ROTS THE SENSE IN THE HEAD!
IT KILLS IMAGINATION DEAD!
IT CLOGS AND CLUTTERS UP THE MIND!
IT MAKES A CHILD SO DULL AND BLIND
HE CAN NO LONGER UNDERSTAND
A FANTASY, A FAIRYLAND!
HIS BRAIN BECOMES AS SOFT AS CHEESE!
HIS POWERS OF THINKING RUST AND FREEZE!
HE CANNOT THINK — HE ONLY SEES!
‘All right!’ you’ll cry. ‘All right!’ you’ll say,
‘But if we take the set away,
What shall we do to entertain
Our darling children? Please explain!’
We’ll answer this by asking you,
‘What used the darling ones to do?
‘How used they keep themselves contented
Before this monster was invented?’
Have you forgotten? Don’t you know?
We’ll say it very loud and slow:
THEY … USED … TO … READ! They’d READ and READ,
AND READ and READ, and then proceed.
― Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

The pressures of parenthood can be overwhelming, high expectations are cast and we all feel the need to ensure our child participates in every club available and has an educated grasp of their studies over and above assigned coursework or homework. They must have the perfect routine, polished shoes and big massive bows in their vellus hair as well as the latest console, tablet or gadget. We oversee all this whilst working full time, keeping a house, an intoxicating social life and bouts at the gym. We buy our kids. Love them through gifts and treats and educate them with military force. I blame consumerism, consumption and greed. We pursue the ‘good life’ through the idealisms of status symbols and social stratification.

I too am guilty of all of the above but I’m also conscious that in pursuing these idealistic ideas, I’m taking away from myself and my child the real ‘good life’. I often forget Ruby teaches me more than I can ever teach her, opens my eyes as much as I open hers. Ruby reminds me of the time when my mind was empty of materialism and full of imagination.

“All the reading she had done had given her a view of life that they had never seen. If only they would read a little Dickens or Kipling they would soon discover there was more to life than cheating people and watching television.”
― Roald Dahl, Matilda

Last week I had five separate inbox messages, sharing a link to a picture of a young girl who was deemed the most beautiful girl in the world. Astonishingly it was Ruby’s doppelgänger. It made me a little angry and fearful. I am under no illusion my daughter is aesthetically beautiful but who cares! It’s irrelevant the shape of her face or the blue of her eyes when she has an inquisitive mind and a yearning of exploration in her heart. Ruby is yet to learn of her beauty and I want to keep it that way. A young girl who cares for the world and for those around her with fire in her belly and a satisfying streak of independence will find it unnecessary anyway.

Watch and pray, dear, never get tired of trying, and never think it is impossible to conquer your fault.”
― Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

Already Ruby has found a gusto for helping others. Last year she incredibly set up a small business from our kitchen affectionately named ‘Ruby’s Cookies’. She enthusiastically baked over 600 cookies and raised over £350 for a local children’s charity. This year she has eagerly confronted me about pursuing other ways of contributing her time in making others feel good. I can see this through her patient manner around her younger cousins and family friends. She is the smallest kid with the biggest, warmest heart.

Tomorrow sees Ruby’s 8th birthday. A celebration with family and friends and a trip to the theatre to see Wicked is what we have planned. Whilst ruby will indulge in gifts and cakes, I’ll sit back and reflect at how awesome this little human has turned out to be.

Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
And I say it’s all right’. Here comes the sun (George Harrison).

Long live the VEF and thank you Ruby, you will always be my Queen.

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2 thoughts on ““Fame is rot; daughters are the thing”- J M Barrie

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