Thirteen, the perfect age to float


The first little traveller is the oldest child on our holiday. I hesitated for a moment before typing child, the confusion of where to place her age, the blurring of childhood to adolescence.

Thirteen is the perfect age to float.

This morning she woke me with the excitement of a child, tonight’s dinner menu had her discussing food like an adult. Pork, roasted, she’s a foodie in the making, a lover of flavours. “And then it’s chocolate soufflé for dessert”. I recognize the sparkle in her eyes, it’s Christmas morning age seven. An American Girl called Julie who until recently sat at the end of her bed. They no longer wear matching pajamas, but sometimes I notice Julie’s hair has been braided or sits high in a ponytail. She’s not completely forgotten.

After breakfast we sat side by side in chairs on the verandah. Her legs have stayed true to her godfather’s nickname. “Lizzie long legs” was then toddling poolside in Jakarta, floaties on each arm, a sun hat to match her all in one sun suit, her legs dangled over the edge of the pool. Her bikinis are now bought from beachwear chains, I watched her flick through tops and bottoms as the music blared in the background, we’re surrounded by surfboards and board shorts. I giggle with the memory of G and his innocence when it comes to his not so little girl, of not being able to see what others see as she grows. Maybe it’s denial. “Oh my gosh, look at Lizzie” a friend said as she emerged from the water on our last trip home, legs that seemed to go forever, she now has hips, and six pack abs from a long lost genetic pool that neither G or I can recall. “Look at her body” a childless friend exclaimed, perhaps not aware of the comment’s consequences. G looked over in Lizzie’s direction and agreed “Yes, she has lovely broad shoulders”. He can’t see it.

She’s been teaching me how to sit at the bottom of the pool. How to “blow out all of your breath, clench your muscles” and sink to the bottom. As we make our way down she lays on her side and shows off by resting her head in her hands at the bottom of the pool. I sit cross legged across from her, we have matching grins. She waves at me and bubbles escape from her lips. All at once she is my baby, my toddler, my child, my teen, my love.

Thirteen is the perfect age to float.

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