For my 52nd birthday.
I got a pen.
I am not sure if it was from my daughter Izobel.
Or from Lisa.
But it doesn’t matter does it?
When your daughter is 4 years old.
It doesn’t matter.
A minute or two after opening the pen.
Lisa left Izobel and I alone.
My new pen in my hand.
Izobel staring at it.
Which is fine of course.
That was nice.
But what was not nice.
Was why Izobel said she wanted the pen.
Why Izobel said she wanted the pen took me by surprise.
Because when Izobel told me why she wanted my pen.
It left me cold.
Izobel has a small, blue writing desk.
Under the lid, it is filled to the brim with higgledy piggledy A4 sheets of paper.
Some of them blank.
Some of them containing Izobel’s priceless drawings.
And there are felt tips in the desk, too.
Some felt tip pens with lids.
But it’s fine.
Izobel has plenty of felt tips.
What she does not have, however.
And never wanted.
Until she saw mine, of course.
Is a ballpoint pen.
My ballpoint pen.
But as I say.
It is why Izobel said she wanted my pen that took me by surprise.
And it is why Izobel said she wanted my pen that left me cold.
Please can I have your pen?
So I asked,
Why do you want my pen, Izobel?
When you have so many pens of your own?
And that’s when Izobel looked me in the eyes.
And said it,
Because I want to be like you.
And in a split second.
Not out loud.
And I repeated it.
In my head.
No, you don’t.
Izobel is more important to me than I am.
That’s just the way it is.
That’s why what Izobel said hit me so hard.
That’s why what Izobel said to me left me rooted where I sat.
Perched next to Izobel.
On the edge of the settee.
I watched Izobel beam proudly as I handed her the pen.
And I watched her lift the lid of her small, blue desk.
And carefully place the pen inside.
She was so happy.
Izobel was happy because now she had my pen.
Izobel was happy because.
In her mind.
That made her like me.
I think that what Izobel said to me on the morning of my 52nd birthday has changed me.
I say ‘think’ because I very often think that I have changed.
In one way.
Only to find the same-old-me the following day.
But this felt different.
It was different because later that evening.
As I sat up late at night alone.
It made me think about the two sides of me.
The side of me that I don’t want Izobel to be like.
And the side that I’d be so proud if she mirrored even slightly.
And it made me think quite seriously.
About how to nurture the good side of me.
And shrink the other.
Change is hard.
Well, it is for me.
Unless of course the reason to change is compelling.
Really compelling, I mean.
So compelling that the change becomes almost automatic.
Habits form immediately.
Change happens immediately.
But change happens.
And I think that on my 52nd birthday.
My 4 year old daughter taught me that.
If I really do want to change.
It is not the change I should be focusing on at all.
It is why I want to change.
That’s where the magic is.
I think I knew this important thing, already.
But as with many important things that great big grown-up adults really should know.
It can take tiny little children to remind us.