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Dublin: 12 °C Thursday 23 October, 2014

Nick Leeson: This is what I wish for my daughter

As he watches his daughter embark on adult life, former trader Nick Leeson ponders the meaning of the word ‘maturity’ – and admits he himself is still a work in progress…

Nick Leeson

RIGHT NOW OUR house is full of false eye lashes, fake tans and various other bits that I won’t expose to the eyes of the reader.

Our only daughter is preparing for her debs’ ball, a notable event in any young lady’s life. In recent weeks she has passed her Leaving Certificate, been offered and accepted a place at university and we couldn’t be more proud. She is a wonderful, rounded individual, a beautiful girl who has worked hard, now deserves a bit of enjoyment and will shortly be embarking on the next phase of her life.

We all instill different values in our children, we all hope that they are safe and happy and have a fantastic life. As we look at her getting ready this evening for this memorable evening, her mother and I couldn’t be more proud. There is added poignancy for me having faced potentially critical illness and previously questioning whether I would ever get to experience these type of moments.

It is one of a couple of events in recent weeks that have caused me to look back, reflect and ask some difficult questions. I’ve had to work out whether I am happy with the answers. I think it is something that we should all do far more often than we get the opportunity to. It ensures that we are moving in the right direction and if the answers are in the negative rather than the positive that we do something about it.

Far too often, life is moving too fast and we don’t have the time to properly assess how things are going and whether or not we are happy with how we are.

“The journey doesn’t stop here”

Looking at my daughter, about to enter a new phase in her life, I do know though that the journey doesn’t stop here. We all continue maturing throughout our lives, learning new ways to frame what we see and develop new ways of dealing with issues that confront us.

I really do struggle with the word ‘mature’. As I looked at my parents many years ago I used to think that it must be horrible to become ‘mature’, or as I thought it, to get old. I didn’t really look forward to it.

However, I don’t think that I’ve had the same journey. I still do stupid things. Only a couple of weeks ago I was out with a friend, left a bar in the early evening, called a taxi, got a take away and went home. Sounds sensible enough but somehow I arrived home covered in mud and grass.

The next morning I was told that I had asked the taxi driver to park up the road, I had catapulted out of the taxi, jumped over the wall, rolled through the garden, fallen over a couple of times and was found peering into the window to see if my wife was awake. The taxi driver arrived 30 seconds later; I use him regularly to pick me up from train stations and events so he knew where I was headed.

I’m still not sure what was going through my mind but the ‘mature’ part of my make-up clearly wasn’t switched on. I didn’t do this kind of thing when I was eighteen – I’m not sure why I chose this night to start.

The second notable event happened while we were in England, visiting relatives and friends. Each and every time that I visit I have to make sure that I take time out to visit the Garden of Remembrance where my mother and father’s ashes are scattered.

“My mother passed away when she was 46. I will be 46 next February.”

It’s never an easy time, the only time that I shed a tear but something really struck a chord. My mother passed away when I was 20 years old, I was working at Coutts and Co in Lombard Street in the City of London and she really couldn’t have been prouder.

As I stood there though, facing the tree that has been erected in their memory and marks their last resting place, I was struck by one thing in particular. Something that I’d never really paid much attention to, something that had probably scared me for many years and that I still struggle to come to terms with. My mother Anne died very young. She passed away when she was only 46 years old. I will be 46 in February.

I felt weird; strange, uncomfortable and worried. I had to catch my breath. In a strange way it represents a milestone in my own life, not one that I ever wanted there but one that has always subconsciously been in the background all this time. As a person, I’m probably not too far from where my mother would have liked me to be but I certainly didn’t take the route most travelled.

So what do I wish for our daughter as she starts the journey through the latest, adult part of her life?

That she takes the journey to maturity slowly, that she achieves slightly more maturity than me (but not too much – otherwise it makes life far too predictable and boring). That she enjoys herself along the way; is always kept safe and is always loving and respectful. She shouldn’t be scared of making mistakes as that is the way that we learn, she should hopefully avoid many of the stupid ones that I have made.

So in summary, we have done a wonderful job with our daughter. I, on the other hand still need work!

You know what? Doing time does help you move on in life>

Read other columns by Nick Leeson>

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