She is Tingirl to all of us here, but at home we call her The Bear.
This is not a reference to her temperament, to her temper or to a tendency to steal picnic baskets. It simply has something to do with her real name, though it doesn’t rhyme with it or anything, it’s just one of those family things that make no sense to anyone else. She has been lucky in many ways – Tinson1 regularly has to answer to Beansprout, and Tinson2 to Smoddler.
She is the youngest and the only girl. There are two directions in which a girl in that situation can go – she can become a tomboy, keenly joining in with all of the boys’ games or, as she chose, she can go for the girly-girl approach, relying on womanly wiles (which she appears to have been born with) to get whatever she wants from them.
This girliness has followed her into teenagehood – her room now sports photos of boys – loads of boys, the only one of whom I recognise is the guy from the Twilight films. She wears make-up and she dresses as if she is determined to catch pneumonia. She has a school coat with the school crest on it but would not go out in that at weekends if she lived at the South Pole. It appears to be the only coat that she owns.
She is an avid reader, a talented and passionate actress and something of a mystery to a dad who never had sisters and has no idea what she is thinking, or if she’s at the right age to be thinking it. As she has grown, though, we have become friends, sharing much the same sense of humour. We also share a love of Harry Potter, of baseball (yes, in Ireland) and of phone-voting for Song 9 in the Eurovision Song Contest each year without waiting to find out what it is.
As I have written before she wants to study drama and become an actress. This would probably lead to a life of poverty, long periods of unemployment and possibly many months away from home.
I hope she gets it, though, because she would happily put up with all of those things if she could realise her dream, and a life spent working at what you most love doing must surely be the most satisfying life of all.
I hope she gets it because it would make her happy. I hope she gets it because she is talented enough to deserve it. I hope she gets it because she is my daughter and my princess.
Tingirl, the Bear, is fifteen today. Happy birthday, my love.