My first-born, Coco, who inspired the Coco Alexander brand.

My (Not So) Little Ox

Chinese New Year celebrations are afoot in the Farnen household and though they are a little more muted in these 'times of Corona', they have an extra special significance for our family this year.

It's the Year of the Ox, you see, and my first-born, Coco, was born in the Year of the Ox which means that we've completed the 12-year cycle of the Chinese Zodiac. This signifies two things. The first is that we get to switch our usual New Year festivities of skiing in Montana for more sedate revelries in Hong Kong. The second is that I have a child on the brink of teenhood. Help!!
It's hard to believe that the inspiration behind the Coco-Alexander nappy wrap, as it started life, is nearly twelve-years-old. It seems like only yesterday that my crazy tomboy child entered this world with a force that I instantly knew would be both a joy and a curse. If it's possible to arrive in the delivery suite complete with a fully formed personality, Coco did it with a neon-lit cherry on top. She's a self-assured, go-getting kinda gal with a real zest for life and a penchant for pressing my much-dented buttons. Like the time she saw fit to lop off her adorable ringlets, pre annual school photograph day, in a defiant display of independence. Things haven't changed much. This week's parent-repelling project was DIY eyebrow contouring - just the one you understand, but even so.
Joking aside I have much to thank my own little stubborn Ox for. Not only does she have the capacity to delight, inspire and alarm me daily, she genuinely was the impetus for my invention of a parenting essential that has become a family business we are all incredibly proud of.

On the prolific eye-roll, hair flick, audible tutting days, I gently remind Coco how much she has to be thankful for. That if it were not for my unconditional motherly love and concern for her delicate derrière, the Coco Alexander luxe nappy clutch would not exist today. I knew the day that she graced us with her presence that she was destined for bigger things, but to look at her now, nearly twelve years on, alongside a brand she inspired, my heart positively sings.

Of course, parenting an Ox is not all plain sailing, especially when you're a Dragon (of the Zodiac origin), though Coco would have you believe differently. We butt heads for sure, and that's in part because both our signs are known for their dogged determination and downright wilfulness. It's also a simple by-product of the inverse hormone fuelled mother-daughter relationship.

In parenting terms, I'm an Ox Veteran blessed with not just one hot-headed Ox but a triumvirate (twin stepdaughters, aka 'the steplets', welcomed into the world under the same auspicious lunar zodiac sign). I think it's reasonably sure that I'm going to be in dire need of a potent youth elixir by the time the "steplets" hit tweendom!

If you're due to have a baby in the year of the Ox let me enlighten you on some of the key characteristics you're likely to encounter. I can't change your fate, but I can prepare you for the roller coaster raising children under the second sign of the Chinese Zodiac. I can also save you from the doom that is changing your baby on a cold, cramped toilet bathroom floor and from the scourge of twee mummy changing bags but if you're reading this, you probably already know that!

Those born under the Ox's influence can be obstinate, but they're decisive and quick to react, putting them as front runners for leadership positions. Oxen of note include Obama, Walt Disney, Malcolm X and the youngest-ever Nobel Prize recipient, Malala Yousafzai.

Oxen hate to fail or be challenged, and did I say they're as stubborn as hell? Conversely, they are fair and reliable, conscientious and inspiring. Allegedly, they're calm and patient though our current drama-queen fuelled interactions tell me otherwise.

Though stylish isn't singled out as a distinct Oxen quality, some Ox aficionados definitely boast a keen sense of fashion on their Zodiac CV. Tyra Banks, the late Princess Diana, Heidi Klum, Chrissy Teigen and the world's youngest billionaire, Kylie Jenner, to mention but a few. We're partial to a bit of luxury and decadence at Coco Alexander, so it's good to know we're in good company. Coco is already making her unique style influences and desires known, but can I really blame her. She has been raised by a mama with more than a passing interest in fashion and a distaste for the frump and twee.

On a closing note, according to the ancient art of Feng Shui, the Ox is an auspicious animal bestowed with a reputation for granting wishes. And if I were to bequest one wish for my wild and wonderful Coco, it would be this. Never lose sight of who you are and what you stand for. You drive me to distraction and beyond, but my wish is that you continue to be the best and most vibrant version of you. I'm proud of the young lady you are growing up to be, and I salute you for inspiring the Coco Alexander Nappy Clutch Bag and for leading us on the most exciting voyage of our lives.

This montage of precious images is my dedication to you and all that you represent. Thank you for keeping me alive, on my toes and for the ever-changing landscape that is parenting you.

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