You turned sixteen years of age today! You know, you’re the only other person in the whole world apart from myself whom I’ve known properly for all of their life… that’s quite the thing.
I wanted to write a letter to you. Something meaningful. Something for you to treasure for always. But you know I communicate best through visuals, so here’s my photo letter to you as you reach this important milestone …
Watching a person grow from their smallest self is quite the fascinating ride, not to mention privilege, and I honestly had no idea just how fascinating it would be.
That’s what I wanted to write to you about. To let you know that what I find the most fascinating – and what I most most admire – about you has been your fierce determination to unfold into the unique individual that you are. Ever since you were little.
You started out with such unlimited potential.
I told you right from the outset that you could be anything you wanted to be, so you enthusiastically tried a few things out. Like being a fireman.
But the emergency services wasn’t ever going to be your thing, was it? Your creative urge was too high and I, for one, was thrilled when you gave it a shot as an artist that time.
But that was short-lived, and I didn’t really mind – you clearly leaned more towards music. Albeit with something of a rock star attitude.
Yeah, definitely a rock star attitude!
You were super thrilled when you got your first iPod, aged seven. I don’t think you’ve been seen without earphones since. (As a mother, you must know I have slight concerns about this.)
But when the music gets you, there’s nothing much you can do about it – that’s obvious.
It wasn’t a surprise that you were going to make music of your own.
That’s not to say that you weren’t ever going to enjoy a sports career.
Okay, maybe not playing footie, but perhaps in your later years, the supporting of it.
You gave that up after one World Cup and moved onto rugby. It’s clear to see that you were quite determined to see that through (for the briefest of moments.)
To be honest, I kinda always knew that team sports didn’t really hold the magic key for you, and I’ll admit that I’m super grateful not to have had to go and stand on the sidelines in the pissing rain, cheering you on. (Thank you so much for that gift.)
You did give the old baseball a go one time, remember? You could have probably made a go of it, if you’d wanted.
But we all recognized you weren’t likely to be West Lothian’s answer to the next Andy Murray.
However, it seemed quite natural that you would try out the martial arts, what with our propensity to look to the East for wisdom.
From White Belt all the way to Brown Belt with the karate – that was something for you to get stuck into. I can remember a medal and a trophy and I’m sure I’ve kept them safe for you somewhere.
You’d often be seen toying with the rarer forms, like that summer you delved into pole form with Martin.
It surely has been a real treat to see you embrace the Adventurer archetype. Like the time you single-handledly paddled practically the length of the Dordone.
And captained your own kayak down some French gorge. Okay, I don’t know if one actually captains a kayak…
Although I do know you were thankful that we didn’t actually take you to the top of Mont Blanc that one summer.
Or sign you up for more than one French birdwatching expedition!
You all of a sudden seemed to morph into a teenager. That was the last milestone before this one, really, and it was then that I could see you striving to shed the skin of the wee boy you had been. That was quite the summer, hey? Can you remember, you even decided to give high-school a try!
But before you got yourself incarcerated again, you gave the body boarding a go.
But your beach preferences had always leaned a little more to the unconventional.
You have always been the most excellent of art critics, it is true.
Taking time to look at the big picture.
With the most outward of gazes.
Your Philosopher archetype runs strong, there’s no doubt.
And your ability to apply yourself to quiet, internal pursuits has seen you through many a long travel, both in geography and mind.
It was fun to art journal together, albeit only the twice!
It’s super difficult to catch more than a glimpse of a teenager, after all – even when they’re home-schooled. Did I ever tell you how proud I am that you decided to extricate yourself from high-school in the end? That was super courageous.
It’s not that you’re not academic at all. You’ve always been deep into research. I think you might take after me on that one!
And sometimes you even looked the part of the home-schooler! Well, maybe just that one time…
These are all of your faces, Ruaridh – every single one of them, and many more… I love them all dearly, especially the ones where you’re in performance mode. Quite paradoxically, that feels like the real you!
Ruaridh Gibbons, international playboy in the making.
Ruaridh Gibbons, international travel-writer.
Ruaridh Gibbons, the boy who ran away from the circus.
Ruaridh Gibbons, the boy with the brightest smile of all.
Ruaridh Gibbons, the boy with the best laugh in the world.
Ruaridh Gibbons, the boy most often at the hair salon.
I feel like the luckiest mama in the world to have witnessed you grow in to the sixteen year old that you are. Thank you so very much for choosing to live out your life the way you do and all the faces you share with us. I can’t imagine my son being anyone but you.