Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Real Life

Once upon a time, there was a king and a queen. They lived in a castle in a kingdom in a land far away. One day they decided to have a child and sure enough the queen soon had a little baby princess and everyone was very happy. And they called the princess Princess Pink

We are enjoying the last days of the holidays, without papers and television news updates, in the watery heat of the summer’s end. I look out from my favourite vantage point above the back garden. My wife is reading at the green metal table, while my daughter plays next to her in the paddling pool, sunlight flickering on its silvery surface. The hosepipe lies nearby. Earlier I had pointed out a rainbow in the fine spray, sliding into the flowerbed. “Look, there it is! Can you see it?” “In real life is there a rainbow?” my daughter asked. She is very keen to work out what is real and what is not nowadays. “Yes, in real life I said. “Oh yes! I see it!” she replied, beaming.

But soon the queen became ill and the king was sad and all the subjects were sad too. The finest physicians in the land tried to find a cure but they couldn’t. So the king took care of Princess Pink. And in return she slept in a little basket next to him every night and kept the sadness away.

I’m not near enough to smell the sun lotion, but I can sense it. The splashing and the singing and the giggling I can hear. I look at her playing and I can see she’s happy, or at least not unhappy. But I worry she’ll not be as happy later, on her own. It doesn’t matter now, of course. To everyone else it might seem that a brother or sister could come along. Many of her friends have them already. But it is unlikely to happen. I know that. And I hope she won’t mind. I’ll explain one day and I know she’ll understand. As for me, later on in the day she makes me happier than she could ever know. Just by lying there asleep against me, story books scattered on the floor, her light breathing matching mine.

In the end, a clever wizard came to the kingdom and he found the cure for the queen. She returned to live with the king and Princess Pink in their castle and got better over the years until she was the same old happy queen. But the king never forgot what Princess Pink did for him and he always tried to keep the sadness away for her too.

58 comments:

Motheratlarge said...

Dear SAHD, I've tears in my eyes reading this. I'm so sorry to hear of such sad times in the past. But your little girl won't really be on her own, because she'll have you and her mum looking out for her. Once you've known that sort of love, I mean the sort of love you write about here that you feel for your family, I think it stays with you for ever. I do understand what you mean, though, and sometimes think similar thoughts about our daughter, who may also well be an only child. I didn't get on very well with my dad when I was a child. It's lovely to see a dad who understands and loves his daughter so well. Thanks for this posting.

Stay at home dad said...

Hello M@L. Yes, I really better write something a bit more humorous next time! You're right but I really feel for her when she's on her own sometimes. Thanks for all your nice comments.

Kaycie said...

I grew up with a brother, SAHD, but still found myself frequently alone. I think your little girl is a lucky one.

I like the way you interspersed one story in with the other.

Stay at home dad said...

Hi Kaycie. Yes that's true too. Thank you on both counts ...

Motheratlarge said...

I really enjoy your poignant postings!

Stay at home dad said...

I'm glad, M@L. Thanks. I'm not sure I can take much more though!!

@themill said...

So much sadness, but most of all, so much love. I sense a good man.

EmmaK said...

Ah, such a beautiful post. I'm enjoying the last days of summer too...the rainbow shining through the sprinkler. Enjoy the peace of having one child, with two it is rather a lot of hair yanking and screaming I'm afraid!

Sparx said...

Good to see you back, SAHD. Very sad, this post, I hope things are ok. Mine is likely to be an only child too for various reasons and it makes me very sad for him sometimes too, as I love my brother inordinately. But then everyone is alone in the world in our own way and who's to say that friends cannot also be family as many of mine also are? She's a lucky girl to have such lovely, loving parents, it's more than many people have in this world.

Stay at home dad said...

Thanks, @TM. I hope so.

Thank you EmmaK. There is that. I have seen plenty of examples!

Nice to be back Sparx. Things are ok thanks. How very well put and yes, if it makes you try harder it's probably a good thing in many ways.

Joyfulgirl said...

Welcome back! What a beautiful post and how wonderful – and what a blessing – that the queen got better and that Princess Pink has her mommy and the King has his Queen.

Rebecca said...

gorgeously bittersweet post SAHD. I know everyone has said it before - but your daughter is truly very lucky to have a father who cares so much about her happiness.

Truly. Really.

Stay at home dad said...

Thank you joyfulgirl. Yes, you're right. It's actually a happy ending!

Thank you very much Rebecca. I'd like to think all fathers care, it's just that I get more of a chance to influence it than most.

Cathy said...

A touching post, SAHD. You are a wonderful caring father.

Pig in the Kitchen said...

This made for hard reading SAHD, I'm sorry things have been tough, but v. heartened to hear that your wife recovered.
I bet your daughter will be the envy of many being an only child, my children have all said at one point or another that they wish they didn't have siblings! An 'open doors' policy will help as she gets older, just think of the giggly sleepovers you have to come, and how much breakfast cereal you'll have to buy!
Pigx

merry weather said...

That was poignant reading - you must have a lovely family - and those feelings were elegantly expressed.

Just a thought - if you had had more children you might not have had the opportunities to blog ...

Stay at home dad said...

Thank you Cathy. I'm certainly lucky so many people say so many nice things here.

Yes, apologies Pig. It's cheaper than therapy, anyway... I'm sure it's not a problem, it's just an instinctual thing, as I'm sure you can attest to!

Thank you Merry. It's a very good point. Having one child does give you the gift of time, both with them and for other things.

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

I think those of us who grew up with siblings feel sorry when we ourselves have singletons. But the singletons never know any different. And they never ever have to compete for mum and dad's attentions. Your wife and daughter are lucky to have a man like you in their lives.

Stay at home dad said...

Yes, that's it exactly, Wakeup... As for the latter bit - I'll be sure to tell them! Thank you, but I suspect it's the other way around.

DJ Kirkby said...

Gorgeous. Some people do not want siblings. There is a childrens story book comp details on Quillers blog, I insist that you enter it immediatly!

Omega Mum said...

I agree with M@L on this one. Very moving, very touching. Liked 'watery heat' too.

Snuffleupagus said...

You are such a good guy. Can you give lessons to the others please...?

Crystal Jigsaw said...

You have a very lucky little princess there, SAHD.

My daughter will always be an only child for various reasons. I don't think there's anything sad about it

Crystal xx

debio said...

It is undoubtedly a different experience to be an only child than to be one of more than one - whether there is any advantage one over the other is open to debate.

I would, with hindsight, have liked to have more than one - but that's because I adore the one I have. I might feel I've missed out but I'm sure my daughter doesn't.

With parents such as your daughter has, she has everything she could wish for anyway.

Lucky girl - lovely writing.

The Poster formerly known as VI said...

Another clever and beautifully written post SAHD, fully expressing the pleasure and pain loved ones bring depending upon circumstances.

That writing contract comes ever closer!

With regards to your daughter facing sadness, and your understandable desire to shelter her from it, whilst laudable, may I ask the question how it prepares her for the inevitable sadnesses she will will experience later in life?

Perhaps you feel she is too young to experience such emotions, but at what age does she become old enough?

BTW I am in no way being critical of you and your approach to fatherhood - you have demonstrated on many occasions your excellence as a father and husband.

kind regards

Stay at home dad said...

Thank you DJK. That is true, still breaks your heart somehow. I'll take a look at the comp, thanks.

Thanks OM. Watery sun's been done, don't think watery heat though.

Snuffs, thanks, but we all try our best (I think)!

CJ, I think that's one thing you can never tell someone, that they're lucky, isn't it.

Not sad, no, not even different, just notable, somehow, in an atavistic way.

Thanks Debio. My reasoning is the same as yours. How nice it would be to replicate something so good. But when is it enough?

Stay at home dad said...

(Former) VI, thank you and not at all, these things should always be open to debate. My interpretation of keeping the sadness at bay is just being there as a steady reference, while the inevitable sadnesses unfold.

Iota said...

The king was a king who thought deeply and wisely. As Princess Pink grew in stature, beauty, knowledge and discernment, she too spent many hours pondering life's mysteries. And although the king thought Princess Pink could never know how happy she made him, in this he was wrong. You see, when she was a child, they had searched together for rainbows in water sprays, and he had trained her well in the art of working out what is real and what is not.

SAHD, this is the finest blog post I have ever read. It has lived with me for the 24 hours since I read it, and the tears keep welling up in my eyes.

I like to imagine that Princess Pink will have lots of fun with her new cousin Princess Purple... And I'm sure your door will be open, as Pig suggests. But yes, life so often mixes sadness in with joy, and I think the way you expressed it was perfect.

Lilly said...

Beautiful post. Love the way you entertwined two stories into one. Fabulous. Thank you for it! No matter that the tone was sad - one needs that to balance the happiness. How can you know happiness if you don't know sadness?

Stay at home dad said...

Thank you so much Iota. That really is a huge compliment. I guess I need to get my happy endings sorted out!

Thanks Lilly. And thanks for reading! I would tend to agree with you. It's unfortunate, but that's life.

Self employed mum said...

I too have tears in my eyes reading this moving post. I always say 'what's meant to be is meant to be' I was an only child, my mother too was an only child. It has never done me any harm and right now my best friend and husband both have family feuds going on. I wouldn't swop for the world.

Stay at home dad said...

Thanks SEM. (Although sorry about the tears!) That's nice to hear.

beta mum said...

I was discussing only childhood with two friends, and they pointed out that I (who grew up an only child) am now part of an enormous extended family - courtesy of my partner and his many siblings, nieces and nephews.
I thought it was an interesting view.
I'm sure Princess Pink will do just fine.

Xbox4NappyRash said...

I am the youngest of 8 kids. While there were no explicitly bad events, other than my mother passing my childhood was not 'joyful'.
My siblings were otherwise occupied and my father was simply not very good at being a dad.
You don't need siblings to be happy, and having them certainly doesn't guarantee it.

You seem to have a wonderful connection with your daughter's 'child world' which has already planted the seeds for a strong relationship.

You guys have no reason to think you'll experience, nor fear,'unhappiness'.

Keep it up !

dulwichmum said...

Lovely perfect SAHD,

My father and I had a very close relationship when I was little, and he passed away before I was ten. These were the happiest days of my entire life, and I hear you describe a similar experience/wonderful childhood that your baby girl is having with you. All the brothers and sisters in the world will never take the place of a lovely daddy, a perfect example of a good partner and father for your daughter to go out and find for herself one day...

Stay at home dad said...

Hi and thanks Beta Mum. I think it is true that only children or children with absent parents tend to drift towards (people with) large networks later in life, for the obvious reasons.

Stay at home dad said...

Thank you XB4N and sorry to hear about your mother. Being the youngest of 8 must present a number of its own particular problems! In fact it's pretty much the inverse of being an only child don't you think?

Hello and thank you Dulwich Mum. Poor you, how sad about your father. It's an interesting view. I suppose sibling relationships vary as much as anything else ..

dh said...

Dear SAHD,
I have a 7 year old princess who is gorgeous (obviously), happy, mischievous, friendly, outgoing... She doesn't have any siblings. She has lots of friends. She loves life with us and we love life with her. After a difficult decision which took a long time to come to terms with, we have realised our family is beautifully balanced and we wouldn't have it any other way. Your princess sounds delightful and I appreciate you sharing her. She'll be fine because she has you and your queen. Thanks, dh.

Stay at home dad said...

Hello dh and thank you. Well, all this proves conclusively that it is not likely to be a problem, for anyone.

IngeniousRose said...

Hi SAHD, I have a pink princess too. She won't have any siblings and she only has one parent as well, but it will have a happy ending, like your story. I know it's been said but with a father who loves her so dearly your princess pink will get through everything, or at least give it her best go.

Omega Mum said...

Have managed to give you non-pink award, finally. Phew! What a relief.

Stay at home dad said...

Thank you IR. Yes, I hope and think so too.. Thanks again.

Thanks OM. Awesone!

Bel said...

I hope whatever madeyour family so sad is over.
You love your daughter so much, i'm sure that she'll know enough love in her life, siblings or not. Our son will most likely be a singleton too. One has to make the wise choice, even if the heart hurts.

Stay at home dad said...

Wise words, Bel, for which thank you. These things teach you that nothing is necessarily what it seems..

Omega Mum said...

I was just thinking about Sammy Shrimp - and it still made me laugh. Had you considered the merchandising potential at all?

Stay at home dad said...

I'm very glad to hear it OM!

I can see it now: the series on CBeebies, the toy in Hamleys and a range of Sammy confectionery. Sadly Sammy would never know what a wealth of er, wealth, he had brought our way...

Suffolkmum said...

What a beautiful and melancholic post. You are such a fab writer. Ditto all that everyone has said - your girl will be happy because she is so loved and lucky to have such great parents, and she'll never know any different. My boy was an only child for a long time - now he has an (unexpected) sister, and it's wonderful - but sometimes, just sometimes, I think I lost him a bit - he certainly has great memories of his early years. I take it your wife is well, I REALLY hope so.

Stay at home dad said...

Thank you Suffolk mum. That's very kind of you to say. Yes, I seem to have lost my mirth, but it will be back I hope!

carrie said...

I'm speechless. That was so beautiful. As usual. :)

Stay at home dad said...

Thanks Carrie. It means a lot to see your comments and everyone else's too.

Georgie said...

What a lovely post and what a great blog - I've recently discovered and so enjoy reading it. You write beautifully (but sure you know that judging by the response you get).

I was an only child (until my parents divorced, remarried and had more children) until the age of about eight and it did me no harm. My parents made sure there were always lots of other children around (cousins, friends etc) and I never knew any different so I really wouldnt worry too much.

Perhaps a little pet would be fun for her...

Look forward to reading more :)

Stay at home dad said...

Hello Georgie and thanks for your comments. As an unpublished writer I can never get enough nice comments!

And yes, I think pet will make an appearance at some point in the near future...

Livvy U. said...

Hello again. I spent a long time mulling over this post and its comments, and thought I must let SAHD know this, even though everyone has said everything, and I'd only be nodding and agreeing, although I don't think anyone said, this time, how absolutely definitely sure they are that you will be a published, not un-, SOON.
So I thought I would.
Livvy x

Stay at home dad said...

Livvy, thank you. Which is not enough, but I don't know what else to say.

I hope to get published, but it will require luck, and you and Omega Mum, PITK, Suffolk Mum etc etc deserve that serendipity equally.

Elsie Button said...

A sad and happy post and beautifully written. I have thought a lot about this post since you wrote it. I can't add anything that everyone else hasn't already said. I just wanted you to know that I have read it. I hope your wife is ok. Your daughter will definitely be absolutely ok - she is very lucky.

Tina said...

Hi SAHD, I'm late to the party, so regrettably I have nothing original to say. However, that never stops me... I hope the queen continues to be well, and that you all live happily ever after. And in a published book form too, so that you share your gift with an even wider group

Stay at home dad said...

Thanks for coming by to say that Elsie. Yes, much better nowadays. Hope you are feeling better yourself?

Stay at home dad said...

Thank you Tina. You're not late, I'm just very slow in posting nowadays. It would be very nice if all those things happened, thanks again!