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Ruby Elizabeth and Indigo Persephone

I remember reading John Irvingís first novel, The World according to Garp in 1993, and wondering aloud at one passage, where Garp is complaining to his transvestite friend (whose name escapes me) about how he keeps imaging horrible accidents befalling his children.

I didn't understand his reference at the time, but now that I have two of my own, I understand it all too well, because I have the same kinds of imaginings.

Itís not that Iím morbid or even particularly pessimistic, but for the first couple of years of being a father (and still now, in fact) I was constantly plagued with brief flashes - like internal, stroboscopic horror films - of my beautiful girls trapping their fingers in house doors, being hit by cars, dropping knives on their toes, and so on. No-one ever told me that being a parent was like this! Now?

Now Ruby is 12 years old and going to secondary school (and how on earth did that happen?): growing up every day, already so beautifully aware and emotionally literate, reading voraciously and rapidly becoming an enthusiastic and effortless Mac user (proud parent). What a joy she is.

And as for Indigo? Now nine, Indi is blossoming both emotionally and academically, leaping effortlessly over every hurdle put in her path: a totally different being from her older sister, a curious little scientist in the making who nonetheless loves ballet and her burgeoning collection of Barbies. What a joy she is.

They're both hugely entertaining, precious, funny little beings - and frustrating little monsters at the same time. I'm sure other parents hold these two mutually exclusive views of their offspring in their heads at the same time too. Yes?

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