A conversation with a 16 year old daughter on her Birthday

Tom Winnifrith Thursday 29 June 2017


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16 years ago it was a terrible day. A 26 week pregnant wife - Big Nose, a rushed Ceasarian, a tiny little creature weighing 1 lb 4 oz emerging and being stuck in a fish tank in intensive care at UCH at once. She stayed there for three months. Who would have thought she'd be sixteen today, eating cake in bed and opening presents and phoning her old dad afterwards?

Naturally she disagrees with my views on abortion even as they relate to 26 week old foetuses. Why, she asks, should a woman not have the right to terminate at any time if the father was a rapist? Dear daughter: the sins of the father should not be vested on what is a viable life form whether that life form be 26 weeks old or 16 years old. You, of all people, should know that.

If a life is viable it should not be terminated. The right to life surely trumps all other "rights". Moving away from the "rights based" world in which millennials live, let us talk of the obligations we all have to our fellow man. Do you not think we have a duty to stop murder? And is not killing a viable entity murder?

We will not agree on this. Nor will we agree on Donald Trump or many other issues where my proudly Godless daughter Olaf is mainstream Islington. She knows that i am not and, indeed, teases me that I think too often about things like God and Christian beliefs and other relics of an old world that, she argues, is no longer relevant. But we can at least debate. And so today we discussed Gladstone, slavery and Hawarden and the holocaust and a wish we both have to visit Auschwitz and the rise of anti-semitism in Europe today. She is pretty sound on that matter although yet to come to support the only democracy in the Middle East. She knows her history in a way that so many young folks do not and that gives her a sense of where she has come from and what it means to be half Welsh and less than half English with some Irish chucked in, a true Brit.

That she cares passionately about certain issues is laudable. In the end she will accept we can do little to change anything on this earth, and like her old man, find herself thinking about other matters. But for now I celebrate her idealism even if she gets it very wrong now and again, having not thought through things in a logical matter. That is obviously the fault of her mother Big Nose. Despite that it is always a pleasure talking to her, my sadness is that I have not spent more time with her as she has grown up. That this is not entirely my fault is no consolation.

About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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