When Grant came into my life he had two very small people that came along with him. So small and wide-eyed, Ben and Phoebe have been a part of my life for 7 years now and we realised recently that I have now known Ben for more than half of his lifetime. It was in that moment where I decided that whether I wanted it or not, I had a responsibility to these children and I could quite confidently call myself a parent and friend to them both.
I like to think of it as an added bonus, that they have in their lives another person they can come to whenever they need something. I like to think that I am adding to their more human qualities like compassion and empathy and helping them see the world in a different light while their mother and father are offering other life skills for them to take into adulthood. My goal for them both is that they have a life better than my own and that whenever an opportunity arises, it should be grasped with two hands. I have dreams for their future and encourage them to dream about their futures too, no matter how large or how small they choose to dream. And there are the less impressive mutual appreciations Ben, Phoebe and I have for The Kardashians and Adam Sandler movies.
I’ve started to see a parenting style emerge as we have spent more time together and I’ve said way too many phrases that I heard my own mother say to me growing up which I swore I would never utter. Its terrifying and exhilarating to see the possibilities in children and full of contradictions. You want to hold and protect them from the harsh realities of the world but at the same time you want them to experience life, make their own mistakes and learn for themselves.
Just this morning Ben has flown with the WA State Team to Brisbane to compete in the National Cross Country Championships. Just 3 months ago he was in Adelaide for the National Triathlon Championships. When we heard about his being selected for Brisbane, we knew it would give him a level of independence not many other 13 year olds have and I am so happy we could make it happen and get him there.
While Phoebe is much like me at her age and is testing the waters about where she wants to go in life, Ben is confident about his direction and realising his dreams every minute of every day. I took these images a couple of months ago when Ben was given his new racing bike – a reward for all his hard work in his sport and school. There is something poetic about it considering how he is moving forward so independently and confidently into his life but I won’t get cheesy about him riding into the sunset. No sir.