One of the stages a person reaches in life is turning 20. They are no longer a child. They can do anything legal without needing permission. They can vote, drive a car, get married. They can also make decisions they might regret later.
The parent recognises their right to be their own person, but will always see that person as their child.
Turning 20 is another step in the long string of events that mark a child's life. It really begins at birth, the moment that helpless bundle arrives into your life to destroy order in the household and ruin your sleep patterns.
Then comes the first smile, the first tooth, the first step, the first word, the first day at kindy, the first day at school, the first ballet lesson or sports game, the first school production, the first day at secondary school, the first boyfriend or girlfriend, the first driving lesson, the first time at the pub, the last day at school, the last day at home.
We have photos to remind us of these events, and the many moments between that make us laugh or cry, or both. But we remember them pretty clearly as milestones for our children, and in our life.
I've been thinking about those changes a lot during the weekend because my daughter turned 20 on Saturday. Where has that little girl gone?
She's making her own way at uni in Christchurch, and becoming a more confident adult. She's still my little girl and she still doesn't seem 20.
It's not that I don't want to admit I have a 20-year-old daughter. I got over that when I turned 50, and that took some doing despite my determination not to be bothered by it.
Funnily enough, I became a great-uncle for the first time on my side of the family a few days ago. That had more of an effect on me because it meant my sister, who's only a couple of years older, is a grandmother.
Grandparents are my parents' age, not my sister's.
This puts a whole new spin on the family and everyone moves up a step on the ladder. She becomes a grandparent, while Nan and Pop become great-grandparents.
It has been quite interesting watching my sister prepare for the event. She was as excited as our parents were when she was about to produce their first grandchild.
And she was delighted as she watched her daughter go through that next stage in her life. Parenthood.
The circle of life, they call it.
Happy birthday, Em, and welcome to this life, Willa.
- The Marlborough Express