I wrote in January about the death of our dog Rashers, brought into our mountainy home ten years ago by the importunities of our younger daughter then aged seven. Today, like her aunt before her Dau.II tied up some few belongings in a small-small rucksack and left home aged 17. She is going to live in Dublin for the summer giving a hand to the childcare-in-school-holidays problem of her odd-mother - it would be false to call a committed atheist god-mother but that's effectively the relationship. There are few enough opportunities for a minor to have any significant relationship with an adult who is not a blood-relative, so it's a source of comfort-and-joy that these two women get on well together. I haven't spoken much about the fact the Dau.II and her sister Dau.I the Poet never went to school. Our family practiced a fairly extreme example of 'unschooling' - just stand out of the way, close your gob, choke down your own fears and apprehensions and let the kids get on with their own education. We started off with a house full of books - mostly second-hand - on just about every subject that has appeared in print except perhaps morris-dancing and incest. Later on we got a raft of interactive CDs from the late-great educational publishers Dorling-Kindersley, and a flaky connexion to the interweb. More recently, we've acquired a reasonable wireless 'broad'band connexion to the interweb. Since the girls were born we've never owned a television, but with the 'broad'band, Dau.II can play Geoguessr and has watched numerous youtube examples of Gordon Ramsey swearing at incompetents in the catering trade. She's educated herself and the results are a bit quirky. Just in the month before she left home she has absorbed a) the name, location and capital city of every country in Africa b) how to make a swiss-roll c) enough Japanese to order food and drink with an appropriate level of politeness d) how to play Dave Brubek's Take Five on her saxophone e) how to repair a broken lawn-mower with duct-tape. That's a pretty handy set of accomplishments with which to face into this dark world and wide.
So she has just launched herself. She is funny and sassy, very light on the invective and sharp on the irony, with a well-honed crap-detector . . . and she's loose on the world. To say I'm proud of her would be, in some sense, to take credit for who and how she is - I can hardly do that because I did nothing much more than sit on my behind and watch her become. So I'll just say that though I'm bereft I'm delighted at how she's turned out.