Dear Big Yin,
I blame myself.
I would really, given that as your mother, from the moment of your birth, I have been hotwired emotionally to a default setting of blame.
But actually, for once, I really am to blame. For I am the one who has encouraged you to believe in fairies.
Those fairies you think sweep behind you wiping crumbs from work surfaces? The ones you believe will magically replenish the biscuits if you leave one broken at the bottom of the packet? Or the ones you think sneak in and wash all those glasses and put those sweetie papers in the bin?
Or how about the ones which remove puddles of water from the bathroom floor? Or will somehow spirit all those soggy towels from your bed to be neatly folded and dried for future use? The ones who can turn an empty cardboard tube into a full loo roll? Or those poor fairies who for years have tried and failed to teach you to lift the toilet seat and to aim into the bowl instead of all over and around it?
There’s the ones you think can find and match endless pairs of socks. And the ones who can turn a smelly, muddy rugby kit left to moulder in the bottom of a sweaty bag for a week into freshly washed and fragrant when remembered on the morning of the big match.
The ones who can remember where you left something, even though they weren’t in the room or the house when you left the thing down you can no longer find. And the sprites who silently follow you around, shutting doors and switching off lights.
Not forgetting the imps who like to move your trainers from the places where they were carelessly kicked off and left for others to trip over and hide them from you, by stacking them neatly, side by side, in the place where they are supposed to go.
How about the fairies who grow the money on the trees and generate unlimited broadband? Magically stock the fridge and cupboards with all your favourite foods? Know – in advance – when you’ve run out of razors, deodorant, shower gel, hair wax? Anticipate when your toothbrush needs replacing, the printer is running out of ink and you no longer like white bread?
I know this is bound to come as a shock and surprise. Though perhaps less so, since you moved into the frat flat. You may just be discovering that dirty dishes don’t wash themselves. Or that bedding doesn’t eventually self-clean. And that when milk runs out, well it runs out.
Sorry if you thought that all the fairies you grew up believing in would be around forever, but…
How to break it to you gently? Sorry, I don’t think there is a way.
The fairies stay here.
Actually, that’s not quite true.
There are some which are yours to take with you wherever you go. There’s the ones who have imbued you liberally with the work ethic. How else to explain your ability and willingness to be up at 7am on this special birthday, to put in a full shift of work before you head off to celebrate, first with family, then with friends.
And then there are the friendship fairies who give you your very special aura. So that you make pals effortlessly across the generations and in every town and country you visit. Meaning that you are a rarity on Facebook – someone who can actually claim that those 1000+ friends really are people you know and know well. A piece at anybody’s door right enough.
Then there’s the sporty sprites. Where did they come from? First, they sprinkled their dust on your footballing talents, and then, on your rugby skills. I might watch you on the field through my fingers, wincing every time contact is made, but really, I of all people should know, that those sprites have given you the ability to sidestep and to switch up the gears which take you past all-comers and over the try line. Making it all look so very easy and your mammy’s heart near burst with pride.
These are yours to keep with you always.
But now that you are 21, I’m afraid, it’s almost time to leave childish things behind and make the full transition to manhood. When you wake up, you will discover that the fairies who have been with you this far, have – almost, but not quite – reached the end of their journey.
Now it’s down to you. Time to take a deep breath, scan the horizon of the future, and trusting in those fine inner fairies of your own, see where life might take you. All around the world, I hope, where success, adventure, love and fun await you. I have no doubt that you will make the best of all that life has to offer and know that you will make your own luck and fortune. It’s who you are.
I like to think that the fairies contributed to the stunning man you have become, who makes my heart soar and my spirits sing. Though, in truth, they only played a small role: the man you have grown into, from wee bear to big bear, is down to you.
Small as their role was, these fairies’ work is more or less done. Though I’d keep believing, just in case, especially in the ones who make the money grow on trees. No doubt, they’ll be needed at some point.
But sad though it is, you can’t take the fairies with you.
Why? Because they are needed here. Boy Wonder has them working harder than ever…
Happy 21st birthday, bear!
All my love,