September, as I know it, isn't a very exciting month. It's back to school season, end of festival season and the beginning of horrible weather season. But September 2012 was alright. On August 30th, one of my best friends gave birth to the most beautiful baby girl I've ever set my sights on. From her silly hair to her chubby little cheeks, there is nothing about this kid that doesn't exude perfection. 10 months later, she's a proper little human being who smiles when you blow raspberries on her tummy and pulls a grumpy face when you won't let her watch the television. Ebony Lilly is going to change the world, or at least the parts around her, and I'm going to be watching every single one of her steps. I'm well aware she hasn't even taken her first yet and the fact she can't read is a bit of an issue but in six years time, when I'm forcing her to read books like 'To Kill A Mockingbird' and 'Jane Eyre', I'm also going to make her read this. Just so she can realise how many lives she turned upside down when she took her first breath:
I know this is a bit premature given that you can't read, walk or even use a computer but one day you'll get what this is all about. When I first held you, you being three days old and me holding back happy tears as your little eyes took in my mental hair and stupid mole face (blame your Mum for that nickname), I made a secret pact with you. Well I made two, one being to always remind you that John Lennon is in fact the greatest Beatle of all time, but the other one being a bit more serious: your Mum has provided me with enough laughter, support and friendship to last a lifetime and I owe her big time for the amount of times she's helped dig me out of horrible situations - when you're old enough to know, we'll tell you the Superdrug story but please don't think any less of me. I was really drunk when it happened.
Your Dad is brilliant and I know he'll protect you beyond belief but there's going to come a time when your Mum is going to need a little bit of help from her friends. Whether to tell you no when you ask to get a piercing (I mean, of course I'll sneak you away from your Mum's watchful eye and let you get it done anyway but she doesn't need to know that) or interrogate your first boyfriend, I made a promise with you, and her, that I'd help out. Trust me, you're going to cause your Mum and Dad a lot of grey hairs as you grow up so the least I can do is try to minimalise the damage, right?
Anyway, the point of this isn't to make myself cry, which I seem to be doing anyway, but it's to give you something to read when you're grounded for the first time. Which I can see being very soon - you're pretty cheeky already, madam. When you were born, I realised I couldn't ever preach to you about the importance of ambition or following your dreams if I wasn't taking my own advice. So at this very moment, I'm living in London, 64 miles away from you, attempting to forge a successful writing career and maintain a level of control over my own life...I'm not sure either of those things are happening at the rate I hoped for but it's an adventure. I'm learning a lot of important lessons along the way so I thought I'd share them with you. God knows you're not going to listen but I like to think you'll pay a little bit of attention...
Whatever you want to do with your life: do it. You're already headstrong and stubborn so I know you'll have no problem with this but just remember that you possess enough power to change the world. Today, I saw my Twitter feed blow up as people expressed their admiration for Wendy Davis, a remarkable woman who has literally changed the world. You can do that too, if you want. But if you want to work in Tesco for the rest of your life, you can do that as well. But just a warning: I'm going to push you to be the greatest possible version of yourself. If you choose Tesco, you'll make store manager in a week.
Please please please respect your education. Don't bunk lessons because your teacher's an idiot. Always revise. Go to your exams. Study hard.
Keep a diary, kid. One day, when you're twenty years old and in a lonely, over-polluted city, you'll read the musings of your teenage self and it'll give you enough motivation to keep pushing through with whatever journey you've decided to take. Write down every single memory as it happens, take lots of photos and document everything. The hand cramp will be totally worth it, I promise.
Do not underestimate the power of music. Your Mum maybe a big Rihanna fan but I'm going to start making you mix-tapes as soon as you're old enough to appreciate the beauty of The Kinks, The Doors, Madonna, Bowie, Alanis Morissette and many others. Get your hands on as many records as you possibly can of as many genres available. Do me a favour and please never buy a Flo Rida song though, yeah?
Boys are going to come and go, trust me. You'll get enough attention from them as you get older but just wait for one that really makes your heart pound and your stomach turn to butterflies. Your Mum and Dad have been together a really long time already, so take note of what they're doing right. But just be picky, for Gods sake. You're going to be way out of every boy's league anyway so maybe there's not much point in even trying to find one good enough for you. Become a nun instead.
Body modification is cool; I have enough tattoos and piercings to tell you this but just think really hard before you mark your body forever.
Vodka is not your friend. Neither is whiskey. Or wine. Or beer. Just don't drink alcohol. But if you are tempted, make sure you've got somebody sensible with you - preferably me. There'll be none of this drinking cider in the park with boys two years older then you malarky.
Appreciate EVERY single thing your Mum and Dad do for you, okay? I know they're annoying and really mental but they brought you into this world so do me a favour and show you're grateful, please.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but people are going to hurt you. Fuck, you're going to hurt people as well without even realising it. But don't let one bad experience stop you from trusting again. Your heart will heal but just forgive as gracefully as you possibly can. Don't hold grudges, they'll just give you a headache.
Don't bleach your hair. Your Mum will tell you this one but just in case she doesn't: green, orange (unless you're me), blue, pink and yellow hair don't look that nice once it's started to fade. Just stay natural.
Say please and thank you.
Read as much as you possibly can. Words are my greatest love, obviously aside from you, and I've learnt so much from them. You're already showing signs of being a bit of a geek so embrace that. Books are cool.
Love, a lot. And be kind. Gosh, Ebony if there's one thing you take from this, if you choose not to take my advice when it comes to alcohol, please just keep this in mind. Be kind, be lovely but don't be taken for a fool.
I know I've sort of limited you a lot here but trust me, it'll be worth it in the end if you listen up. By the time you're old enough to read this, I'm not sure what I'll be doing with my life - hopefully writing for a respected newspaper and earning enough money to see you at least twice a month, but just know that wherever I am, I will always have your back. You'll always have my support, regardless of whether you want, or need, it so don't be scared to tell me things you feel you can't tell your Mum and Dad. Just don't tell me you like Rihanna.
I'm going to make sure you experience as much of this world as I can offer you, whether that be in the form of holidays, gigs, books, words, adventures, train tickets, advice or life lessons. Your Mum and Dad have got to do the serious stuff so don't hold that against them but they've made sure you've got enough people around you to provide the fun side of things.
Ten months old and you're already changing the world, little one, so I can only imagine what you're going to be like by the time you reach my age. Just be cool, Ebony, and don't ever be embarrassed by anything I do...because it'll only make me do it more.
I love you a ridiculous amount; thanks for turning my world upside down without forcing me to go through a really painful labour. I'm sorry for the amount of The Beatles I will make you listen to.