'˜Cowardice in its most heinous form - but we mustn't let the fear win'
As a parent, witnessing your children's '˜firsts' and seeing the unequivocal joy on their faces as they do something new and different is absolutely priceless.
From watching them take their first teetering steps to laughing at their amazement at tasting their first ice-cream to clapping with pride when they learn to ride a bike, milestone moments are forever stored like treasures in our memory bank.
Seeing life through the eyes of a child and observing their innocent joy, wonder and excitement is infectious and gives even the most jaded and cynical of souls a fresh zest for life.
In everything from trips to the zoo, days out to theme parks, going to a pantomime to holidaying abroad, the greatest pleasure for adults is beholding the happiness of their children.
Youngsters are awed by and drink in the magic of new experiences the rest of us take for granted. The sound of a child laughing with pure elation is the most beautiful music in the world.
As the years roll by, those ‘first’ moments keep coming and evolve into a desire for more freedom and independence. For parents, the predicament is caring enough to let them go.
Only weeks ago, I experienced a new ‘first’ moment with my 11-year-daughter as I took her to her first proper concert –Ed Sheeran at Manchester Arena.
She could barely contain her excitement and chattered animatedly all the journey there dressed in her carefully chosen outfit feeling all grown up.
Her euphoria at actually being in the same room as her idol and watching him perform was indescribable and she danced and sang along in total rapture.
Rather than watching the stage, I found my eyes drawn to my daughter’s intoxicating enthusiasm and it filled me with utter joy. Those same eyes now keep filling up with tears every time I see the innocent faces of the children cruelly slaughtered moments after jubilantly watching Ariana Grande.
Like my daughter, these young fans clutching their pink balloons will have gazed at the stage with adoration.
But cruelly some never made it back home.
The most difficult thing to comprehend is the fact children and young fans were specifically targeted by this terrorist.
Ariana’s fan base is primarily young girls and teenagers; many will have been attending their first concert.
What kind of depraved people would target defenceless children who were simply having fun and uniting in the shared pleasure of music?
It is cowardice in its most heinous form as the murdered youngsters and their parents were soft targets.
There are evil extremists who disapprove of empowered females singing and dancing.
The Manchester attack on our doorstep has made terrorism real and the powerful urge is to bubble-wrap our children and keep them home safe from harm.
But that way, the lowlife responsible win and that cannot be allowed to happen.
We need to remember the victims – but teach our children to keep singing, keep dancing and never let the fear win.