Thursday, November 1, 2012

Happy Birthday, Jill!

Jill at 21, having a drink with her old man
My beautiful daughter, Gillian, turned twenty-one today, meaning both of my children are now old enough to be recognized as "adults" no matter where they travel. It's a bit of an odd feeling, let me tell you. Also, this fall marks the first time ever that both of them, Jill and Tim, have been in Post-Secondary schools at the same time. After a couple of years dabbling in Science programs at each of McGill and Waterloo (and a year off working and rethinking her future), Jill surprised all of us last winter by announcing that she wanted to do a complete about-face and return to school in a field of study almost diametrically opposed to what she had been immersed in up to that point; as a result, she applied to (and was accepted by) the Ryerson Theatre School, in the Performance Production stream. She is loving her time there, as clearly evidenced by the joy she demonstrates whenever she discusses her long hours of work which she has already put in, and it clearly was the right choice for her to make. I think she was worried about my reaction when she told me of her plans, though; however, I merely had to think back to my own transition from high school to university and how I was talked out of my first love, entering the Music program at the University of Toronto, by my Dad and my Guidance Counselor, among others. I entered the Applied Math program instead and hated it; as a result, I never finished and have been held back by that failing ever since. The best advice I could give Jill this past January was to do what made her happy, but follow it through to completion this time. This year has really been one of the very few "difficult" times in our lives together, though, and it hasn't been all that "difficult".

Jill at 4, cutest little girl ever
Jill came into my life about two-and-a-half years after her brother was born—pretty much a perfect gap, I feel. On Hallowe'en night, 1991, we were preparing ourselves to take Tim out for his first Trick-or-Treating experience when his Mom started to feel a bit odd. (If memory serves, Jill was a couple of days overdue at that point but I don't know how many any more; however, I do recall that we had an appointment with the Ob-Gyn that afternoon and it's very likely that that was what set off the chain of events to follow. We called my Mom and had her come down to our place to bring Tim home with her overnight: his candy-gathering would have to wait for another year. We lived at that time in a townhouse development with eight units all sharing a central hallway and Hallowe'en was the biggest event of the year for us; we unscrewed lightbulbs, hung decorations, played scary music for the wee folks who came to visit us—it was a huge party. Everyone kept the front doors to their units open and pulled chairs out into the hallway, making it seem like a street scene from 1950s rural Canada. It was through this phalanx of neighbours that Jill's Mom and I walked that night, running the gauntlet of well-wishers tossing soft candies at us like wedding rice as we headed for the car and the trip down to Toronto General Hospital. We had been told the sex of our first child before he was born, as there had been some complications and we were unsure of his health until he actually entered the world, but we were prepared to be completely surprised the second time (although I was 95% sure we were having a girl, because it just felt so different to both of us the second time around).

Jill and Grumpy P on Father's Day, 2006
We arrived at TGH and were "settled" into a room around 9 p.m. This experience was going to be very different from our first child, no matter how it turned out, because my ex had to be induced to have Tim. This meant that we had a schedule for his birth, we already knew the gender, he was born (ultimately) by Caesarian, there was no rushing to the hospital and he was a Spring baby. Also, we had already picked out his name because we had that luxury. This time, however, we got to experience everything we missed the first time around: the unsure timing, the surprise of the gender and, as it turned out, a natural birth. The labour was quite short (by male standards, at least, since it wasn't me in labour) and shortly after midnight things started to really click along. At 1:30 a.m. on the dot, my second child took her first breath and I was delighted to learn that I had a daughter. This time around I was allowed to cut the cord and hold her right away (things were a bit different after the Caesarian). We didn't name her just then, waiting instead until the next morning, and that worked out very well indeed because before I went back to the hospital after a very short sleep I just happened to stumble across an old list of possible names that we had worked out years earlier before we knew Tim was going to be a boy. On that list was the name "Gillian", one which we had both liked at the time but had rather forgotten about in the years since. I knew at that moment that our daughter was meant to have that name and it has suited her perfectly ever since.

So each of Tim and Jill were born on a Friday, which apparently makes them "Loving and Giving", according to the old poem. I wholeheartedly concur with that assessment.  They were an absolute joy to be around when I was a Stay-at-Home Dad in their early years.

Happy birthday, sweetheart. We are all very proud of you.


I've kept my comments open and moderation-free for many years, but I've been forced to now review them before they post due to the actions of one member of my family. I apologize for having to take this stance, but that's the way the world is headed, sad to say. Thank you for your understanding.

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