Ever since she was old enough to do so, Kara has been running away from me.
Give her half an opportunity and she takes off without the slightest hesitation or fear. The image above is my favourite ever of Kara. I took it in the Italian town of Lucca when she decided she was going to investigate the narrow streets behind the cathedral without waiting for anyone else. At the time, she was aged 15 months.
I’ve been chasing her ever since.
Other than a general desire to keep her safe, this kind of antic doesn’t concern me. I know she is really running towards something and not away from me – a subtle but important difference. Whether it is a new adventure, something interesting she has spotted or just for the sheer fun of running, she embraces every new experience with the same gusto with which a starving man devours a cheeseburger.
Kara invariably attacks the world head on at 100 miles per hour with a laugh and a beaming smile. And if that means that I spend much of my time pursuing her from behind, that’s a small price to pay. Her energy is infectious.
Tomorrow is her last day at preschool. For nearly eight years we have had either one or two of our children at this same place – we often joke that we have almost single-handedly funded their various building improvements and extensions over the years. We have attended every nativity play, every sports day. We have come to know the owner and the invariably brilliant staff like extensions of our own family as they have nurtured Isaac’s intellectual curiosity, Toby’s stoic stubbornness and Kara’s forcefulness of personality. It will be a sad departure for both daughter and parents.
Five weeks from now she will start her latest adventure as she joins Isaac and Toby at primary school. I have no doubt that I’ll be watching on again on day one as she runs away from us and towards this new landmark chapter in her young life.
To borrow from Forrest Gump: run, Kara, run.