A life of invention and adventure
Today my first born son Jesse turns 16. He has a busy schedule. He has pre-ordered fruit salad and yoghurt for breakfast (keeping it light for the eating ahead), then he has booked his drivers license test for 9 am, after which friends and family will adjourn for a yum cha lunch. Dinner is yet to be decided.
His schedule tells you a bit about him. He’s a teenage boy so of course his stomach is important, but he also likes to live and eat adventurously. When we go out to dinner he orders congee, or duck, or something similarly exotic, and invariably his choices are delicious. When he plays he likes to play hard, whether it’s spear fishing, shooting, surfing, experimenting in the back shed or whipping up some dessert in the kitchen. He is taking his driving test on the first appointment of the first day he is eligible. He will drive the required hours and I have no doubt he will take the next test on this same day in one years time. He is focused and he is fearless. He has ridden motorbikes, horses, camels, elephants and a turtle and has swum with dolphins, sharks and humpback whales.
When he decides he is interested in something he thoroughly researches his topic and then goes hard until he attains mastery in whatever it is he’s into at the time. In 2012 it was the production of beef jerky, making knife handles from burls and furthering his archery skills. A lot of his friends and peers are into more traditional sports and pursuits but he’s never been one to bow to peer pressure and has always followed his own interests.
Over the years he has given us our fair share of anxious moments. The time he was 2 and he crashed into Bronte pool head-first in the middle of Winter. The time he was 5 and got bitten by an insect and started swelling up and turning red in the face in the middle of nowhere when we were camping. The time he was 12 and the school called. His lip had swollen to three times its normal size because a bee had bitten him. He was chasing it in order to eat the stinger because he’d heard they were delicious. The call from the friend’s mum from their farm “Jesse’s alright BUT but he’s in a helicopter on his way to the hospital” when he was 15.
Days that stand out for me. The day he got his superman suit. The day he met his sister. Spotting lions on safari in Africa. The time he shot his first rabbit with a gun & proceeded to skin it, gut it and prepare it for eating (this kid grew up in Bondi!). Diving for abalone, preparing it and cooking it for the family to eat when camping on the South Coast. The day he rang us to tell us he had shot and killed a feral goat with his bow on his friend’s farm (there’s a bit of a theme here).
Having a son has taught me many things. When Jesse was young we discovered new worlds inhabited by dinosaurs and pirates. We then explored rocks and minerals, reading Harry Potter, and later the Lord of the Rings. We debated the merits of the subsequent movies and what should have been left in or out. Recently my debating skills have been further honed when Jesse became interested in hunting feral animals and took a pro-hunting in national parks stance, whereas I am staunchly against it.
Before having kids I thought I was going to be a perfect parent. But from the moment I met that vulnerable little baby I realised that was impossible and I was just going to try and do the best I could. I’m still trying. I think despite our many mistakes his father and I did a pretty good job. Looking at him today I am overwhelmed with the mettle of the gorgeous young man that is my son.
Happy Birthday Jesse