The other day I brought my daughter and her cousin (visiting us from Kazakhstan) to the Natural History Museum. They hire out “Junior Explorer packs” for children under 7, fun backpacks full of activities to encourage investigation of the museum, spot the object games, colouring in booklets and so on. They come with a cute little safari helmet. We hadn’t been for a while, but she remembered the packs from last time so asked me to collect one for her. “The ones with the explorer hat, Daddy”
But when I asked the man at the desk, he looked the children over and suggested that both are probably old enough now for the 7+ activity set, a more serious and studious collection of scientific facts, museum routes, experiments and research activities. Minus the safari helmet. They accepted this new set happily.
And I became filled with that peculiarly parental combination of deep melancholy and overwhelming anticipation, at what beautiful innocent forms her sweet soul has passed through, forms that I have been blessed to witness beside her, and at what she moves into presently, into such glorious grown up worlds: she shall enter them brilliantly and, soon enough, alone.
No longer a little explorer, but forever the explorer, inshallah.