Sweet eighteen?

I like rules. I’ve always liked to know that there are rules and I expect everybody – I’m looking at you pushing a shopping cart on the streets – to follow them, even the unwritten ones. (Really, dude, it’s not your cart).

I like rules so much that I make up new rules for myself. These are rules that may have been inspired by other people, but they only apply to me.

Two of these rules have to do with how I speak of Son and Daughter – and no, there’s no rational reason behind them. One, I never call refer to them as “children”, “kids,” or even just “son” and “daughter”, except here on the old blog. The rule is to always include their name in the conversation.

I think it has to do with my being an only child. I never wanted to be just a kid. I always wanted to be Risto.

Funnily enough, the second rule has to do with the end of childhood. And the rule is never to call someone “an adult” or “a grownup” when they turn eighteen.


In mid-March, you can never tell what the weather will be like. Some years, there will be snow on the ground, others, like this year, the snow’s all gone but it’s still chilly out in the morning.

In March 2006, there was snow on the ground and it was chilly, at least outside one Stockholm hospital. Daughter had been born the evening before, and I had driven back to pick Wife and Daughter up. Since she was our second child, we had been well prepared for her birth, especially since she was – now we now, not unexpectedly – two weeks overdue.

It was an exciting time, but not scary. We knew what we were doing. So she was born with jaundice and her skin was slightly yellow? Yeah, we know, she can sunbathe on the kitchen table.

When Son was born, I remember sitting by her tiny hospital crib and just staring at him, in amazement. With Daughter, the memory is from outside the hospital, where it as chilly and windy.

She was tucked inside a fluffy, white overall so that all that I could see were here eyes, as I held her in my arms and carefully walked to the car. Little did I know then.

I didn’t know she was going to be so funny. I mean, the odds were high because the rest of the family is hilarious, but still.

I had no idea we’d drive around Stockholm and Sweden to her games in all kinds of sports. I had no idea how many cups of coffee or hotdogs were waiting for me at hockey and bandy rinks and soccer fields.

I was clueless to what it feels like to watch her out on the ice, and at the same time, feel so helpless and proud. It says more about the size of my ego that I often think that if only I – I – could be at least on the bench with her, I could help her. Now I stand behind the plexiglass with my thermos and like Snape in Harry Potter, mutter to myself instructions and encouragement.

Who could’ve known that she would become a straight-A student? I mean, I – can’t emphasize this enough: I – was good pupil, but even I never got all As. (Damn you, woodworking.)

If you ask me, there’s nothing she (or Son) can’t do. If they put their minds to it.

Daughter turns 18 today but we celebrated her last weekend with the extended family by going to her favourite adventure park / escape room. After a couple of hours, as we broke for lunch, I caught up with her at the texmex buffet.

“Oh, that looks good, have some of that. And remember to eat, you have a game later today,” I said, whispering to her ear.

She turned around.

“Come on, Dad,”she said. “I’m an adult now.”

I didn’t say anything. I just smiled.

I wasn’t going to break my own rules.

“Of course,” I said. “You’ve got this.”

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