My 9yo daughter and partner have an interesting relationship. They once went a whole day speaking to each other in a made up language only the two of them could understand.
Another time, they spent an entire afternoon throwing water bombs across the backyard at each other. Or they will often venture out on local, early evening grocery store adventures, both dressed in onesies, with conversations going something like this,
9yo: Have you ever been gay?
Partner: Not that I’m aware. Why do you ask?
9yo: I don’t know, just asking. What if I was born a fish?
Partner: That would be pretty different wouldn’t it?
Or the most recurrent…
9yo: You’re weird. You’re the weirdest person I know.
Partner: I like who I am and I like that you think I’m a bit weird. I like people who are weird and different. You and I have the most unique conversations, you come up with the most surprising stuff.
I always knew it was going to be a challenge introducing my new partner to my children, especially the youngest, but two years later they’re almost inseparable. It’s not always easy, but It helps that my partner has always been surrounded by women, was raised by strong women, photographs women for a living and is all too happy to set up his studio for a keen 9yo who loves to dance and play dress ups.
images by Jody Pachniuk
One morning, after I’d dropped her older brothers to the train station, I came home to find the two of them in the bathroom, wrapping her hair around pencils then using a straightening iron “to give it some curl” for her pony. An ebay package arrived a few months back, two mannequin heads with extremely long hair, affectionately referred to as Emma and Hannah. Emma and Hannah are now part of the family. My partner purchased them with the sole intention of teaching himself how to “fish braid” under the instructional guise of a 9yo asking for fish braids to go to school. I wasn’t allowed to be a part of any of it.
More often than not, there are the carefully constructed powerpoint presentations. 30 minutes spent googling images to make a comprehensive, multi transitional “persuasive text” powerpoint presentation with effects, simply because she wants to convince him to take her to Harris Farm to buy seaweed for her lunchbox in the morning, or for the two of them to practise braiding hair…
“I will not be bossy and I will be patient. It looks very hard but to be honest it is one of the easiest things when you get the hang of it and if you don’t get it write tonight that’s totally ok. Please don’t say no straight away at least think about it”
Just as I’ve kept my children’s artwork over the years, I’ve recorded so many of these moments in time on paper. This simple reflection of a moment in my childrens’ lives will stop them in their tracks one day when they’re all grown up.
No great revelations. Just some diarised pages about what they used to do, or think or say at any given moment in their lives. And the power is not in what they were doing but rather that someone has bothered to record it. Nobody else is going to document a snippet of their lives, and as their Mum I couldn’t think of a more glorious gift to give. For me, a few sentences about a mundane, everyday moment in life from a forgotten day long ago has meaning, as do the pencil drawings, paintings and sketches that lay amongst them stored away in boxes. These are the things that speak the loudest.
The point is, I’m going to make sure I find a way to make these moments I’ve witnessed last forever. If that means writing this blog, sharing it and at the same time immortalising it in text so I can treasure them forever, I’m all up for that. Because at the end of the day, the more we record, the more we document, the more we write….the more we remember.