Sixteen years ago my life was profoundly changed by the arrival of a small baby. It was somewhat unexpected and I was wholly unprepared. Things were never quite the same again. It wouldn’t have worked out if they were.

Parenting is tough. I mean _really _tough. Despite there being a million and one books on the subject there’s no proven way of knowing if you are doing it right. It’s a like trying to complete a giant jigsaw puzzle without the picture on the box to refer to. You desperately hope that the finished picture is something you like, and that you haven’t lost any important pieces along the way because once you’ve started it’s far too big and complicated to try again.

Sixteen years on and that hapless and noisy baby is now celebrating the end of secondary school and the beginning of a new chapter in her life - by attending ‘Prom’. Prom is officially a big deal for teenagers. Many hours have been spent choosing the right dress, shoes, make-up and hair-do. Tonight we stood dutifully with a small crowd of parents and watched as a series of limousines, sports cars and horse drawn carriages ejected their well dressed cargo. We saw a young woman instead of a child in front of us, and suddenly the enormous possibilities of the world in front of her hit us. In a few short years she’ll be off to university, and then to wherever the winds blow her.

The jigsaw pieces are all in the right place, and we do indeed like the picture. The scary bit is not knowing what comes next.

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