This year it finally happened. The threat had loomed for a while but when the time came, it kept coming. He proved the next two times we played, that his victory wasn’t a fluke. 

For about four years now, my 17-year-old son and I have had a regular hit of squash up at our local RSL gymnasium. Up until this year, my title was unchallenged. I’m a bit old school when it comes to the debate about whether you play full tilt or let your kids have a chance against you in competitive games. Especially with our squash games, I have always shown no mercy. And when his turn came, neither did he.

You wouldn’t have seen it on the back page of your newspaper and it wasn’t the lead story in Sport on the evening news but, in June this year, whilst still 16 years old, Jack beat me 3-2 in a fiercely contested game of squash. He lead 2-0 and I clawed back thinking, “I’ve got him” and then, the rest is history – he allowed me only two points as he finished his dad off in the fifth game. I thought, “Right… next time, I’ll get him back”.

Well, next time, he beat me 4-1 and then for good measure, he got the same score the time after that. There was a definite pattern emerging in the way our games were going.

You hear about how the lion packs in the African Savannah working out who is the boss lion… the old lion often sees off some early challenges but eventually the young lion wins a fight and becomes king of the pride. During that first loss, whilst scrambling to try and maintain my title, I could see that he was bringing a new strength and pace to the game that I couldn’t match. Promise you, the fight went to the last point but when he won, a wave of pride washed over. He had done it… gone past his old man.

This was a treasured moment.

Everyday life goes on. Then something happens that marks a moment in time. Our kids have got to a new stage.

These moments don’t have to be contests. It can be a moment you become aware of sometime after a new change has occurred. My oldest Amber provided one of these moments this year, along with my mum. 

Amber actually stopped being a teenager this year (by virtue of turning 20). Life is flowing for her: just finished second year university; she’s recently done some house-sitting for friends; she has got herself a great steady part-time job and now, is driving her own car. She has been forging her own independence.

Somewhere along the way, I heard my mum start a sentence that will probably read as fairly ordinary to you. Mum and dad are still in the same house I grew up in. We are now on the other side of town.

Mum started “When Amber popped in again the other day…” Like I said, this would seem somewhat innocuous to you but as Amber’s dad, me and her mum have always driven her over to see my mum and dad. Now she was popping in, of her own accord, after uni. When she house-sat, she was closer to her grandparent’s house than to ours. Mum explained that Amber had been coming to visit just to say hello. Over the visits, an idea Amber has for a family film project grew. Amber is lucky enough to have a memory of mum’s parents – her great grandparents. My grandpa died in 2002 when Amber was nine. She remembers this kind old man who had lived a tough life. Grandpa grew up in the Depression. He was orphaned and built a life with his own family from this starting point of adversity. Amber is fascinated by her great grandfather’s story. She has developed a passion for documentary making at university. At a recent family gathering she asked everyone to be ready to share their memories of grandpa sometime soon on camera.

Mum told me that she had shared things with Amber that she can’t recall telling me or my brothers or sister. Mum said it was easier to talk about when she was growing up to her grand-daughter.

My daughter who it seems, just a second ago was a little baby I could hold in one arm… now has her own adult connection with my mum. It is their relationship. Amber’s got her own independent, creative ideas. Of course she has. It might read as obvious but when mum said, “When Amber popped over again the other day…” the sense of another wave of pride washed over. A treasured moment had visited again.

Almost invisibly, another stage in your child’s life is progressing to a point where some time soon, you’ll be right in the middle of a treasured moment. You’ll feel it right there and then – perhaps being delightfully confronted by the realisation that they have gone past you, like the young bloke did destroying me on the local squash courts. Maybe you’ll become aware sometime after the event – like I did with Amber – realising, “wow she seriously is a young adult now… she has an impressive generous imagination… she has her own family connections that she can pursue.

Sure, we drive each other crazy. We get things wrong a lot of the time with our kids. But hey, our kids surprise us. They can delight us with a treasured moment that says, they are on the way to being their own person, a young adult.


This story is posted on the last day of 2013. This is a good time to look back and wonder… where were those treasured moments for you as a parent, as a mentor to a young person? Give yourself a bit of Time & Space to wonder at the magic of your kids growing up.

 Bill Jennings

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Thanks for reading this year. As always feel free to write a comment in the space below. There are a few ways you can comment – if you choose anonymous, it is always appreciated when you put your name next to what you say. Have a grouse 2014.