I shouldn’t write at night when I’m thinking about you or your brothers Arch.

For Archie…

The four of you have a baying, hoof-pumping, wild pony kind of energy that a dozen drovers with long cracking whips would fail to contain and you raise more noise than a thousand squealing pigs being chased by a thousand snarling wolves on a thousand whirring treadmills and I’m right in there, without earplugs, trying to keep an eye on the bazillion listed and unlisted tasks and then all of a sudden you’re all snug in your beds and I’m alone at the computer and the isolation and silence I was tonguing the air for only hours ago is swamped by the memory of the night’s most sobering moment when I kissed your face and felt the years that have passed since you were born.

Somehow – around the same time Maki was taking his first nappy-free pee off the back porch, as Tyson was switching his obsession from Gangnam Style to What Does A Fox Say, just after Lewis started bringing back love letters from school – you turned nine and I’m ready to set up road blocks, to hold up placards, to start chanting my protest at how fast you’re growing up because I remember not so long ago when your mother would pass you over to me and I’d hold your whole body in one hand while patting your back with the other. A kiss on your cheek and you’d turn your head towards me, mistaking my nose for a nipple, your breath smelling sweet with Mummy’s milk…

archie-toddlerA few years later and you’d toddle across the floor and stand between the two of us with your hands behind your back and lean forward like a waiter trying to ask after us without interfering too much, saying, ‘Kisses?’ before running back and forth, cranking the drama up Bollywood-style and loving the laughter as you pecked at us like a crazy chicken and…

…I’m sorry Arch, mate, because I meant this to be a simple celebratory note for your birthday but I’ve popped in the earphones and searched for a sad song to match the smile on my face and the melancholy in my heart and now I’m drifting back to your first year at school when your face was still more baby than boy and your hand was like a rabbit’s paw on my palm and although I’m in love with the way you’re growing up I remember back then how you’d let me kiss your lips to say goodbye and kiss me again when I picked you up.

The song I’ve set on repeat is Love My Way by The Psychedelic Furs and I’m only telling you that because those kinds of details matter to me and if I was you in ten or twenty or thirty years I’d want to get as close to my old man as possible by turning off the lights and bathing myself in the glare of a computer screen and listening to the same song he was listening to while he padded his fingers across the keys to mark this milestone in my life and let’s just get this out of the way and make the obvious even more clear – your old man was a little bit of crazy mixed with a whole lot of softie and that leads me into this advice…

There’s a little bit of crazy in everyone, Arch. It’s there to light the spirit and make a person shine through the billions of others and the mockery of a limited lifespan but it’s easily blanketed and I worry about this happening to you. You’re a gentle, caring person who can be outrageous and hilarious with the right support and at the centre of all that is great creative flare but it means you’re an open soul vulnerable to the frowns of the hard heads and the harsh words of the naysayers and the troops of back-slappers and goose-steppers who recite their rules by rote and if there’s one thing I want you to take from this rambling dedication it’s to not hide your crazy away because of potential hurt or embarrassment or the feeling that you’re a little bit different. Hold on to your crazy Arch. Honor it!

And hear comes the moment that hijacked my mood and your birthday post and to be honest this is probably more for me to reminisce on but I hope one day you get something out of it….

I asked you if you’d had a great birthday party and kissed you goodnight several times on the cheek and twice on the forehead and said, ‘You’re nine Arch! Another nine years and you’re an adult…. I won’t be able to kiss you like this much longer, will I?’ Saying it out loud seemed to take me by surprise and made it real but when I put a hand on either side of your face to kiss you one more time you smiled your mixture of baby and adult teeth and with the sweet naivety I treasure but know will pass said, ‘Yes you will Dad.’

Archie-9-Birthday

 

Shine on Archie!

Love your way!