I’ve been meaning to write this for a while but when you look back on this time, you’ll understand why it’s so late. Juggling you and your sister during a lockdown has meant normal life has been put on hold for a while, but I couldn’t miss you having a birthday update, could I!? By the time this comes out you’ll have been four for nearly two whole weeks. Just fifty odd to go until you’re five… something we’re apparently already counting down to.
In truth, I’d been dreading your birthday for a while now. We had so many big plans about what we wanted to do: we were going to be on holiday, then we were planning to take you to Legoland since you’ve been asking for months, we thought about throwing you a party with your friends, and of course, everyone that loves you most would be there. The reality was much different; holidays weren’t booked, trips were cancelled and we never got beyond the booking form for your party. Still, we were here and really that’s all that matters isn’t it?
Your birthday was filled with love. When you woke up, you’d forgotten about it. A remarkable feat given that we’d had nightly arguments about it taking ‘soooo long’ to come round. When we reminded you, your entire face lit up with excitement and we ended up turning the bed into some form of trampoline. As you and your sister bounced around, I knew that you would be absolutely fine with staying home. We did presents, ate pancakes and blew out the candles on your cake so that you could have some for breakfast – all things that you’d demanded. I mean, requested. You tore through your presents like a wild child, desperate to get them all out before declaring that we absolutely had to do the lego right now. Morning plans officially made.
Then in the afternoon we went to the beach for the first time. The rules had changed just a couple of days earlier but we hadn’t ventured out yet. Getting you in the car and sitting on the beach was the most wonderful feeling yet. We took a picnic, we threw stones and we soaked up being somewhere new. It was simple but perfect. Just like the rest of the day. And at bedtime, you were so tired you fell asleep in seconds… a gift to me perhaps!
Birthdays always make me sentimental but yours always affects me the most. My firstborn, the mama-maker. Every time I blow up the balloons and wrap the presents, I’m transported back to your birth and all the feelings that came with it. Apps like Timehop take me back instantly – your little cone head, your wrinkly feet, that hairy little forehead. I get a rush of all of the emotions that I first had, coupled with the terror and amazement at how quickly you are growing up.
This year is a big one for you; you’re off to school. I still can’t really believe we’ll have a school child. As much as I’ve hated this lockdown situation, it’s given me time with you that I never thought I’d have again. Weeks of having you home and all to myself, and as hard as it’s been, it’s also been incredible. I have had months to soak up the person that you are now. The one that I sometimes don’t appreciate when I’m rushing from work to home to bedtime.
You are funny, cheeky, smart and sensitive all at once. You have emotions that you don’t always know how to handle and I know the last few months have been tough on those. You explode in seconds but are always so full of remorse… you strop your way to a timeout but you’re apologising before you’ve even got there. You’re liberal with your affection and love nothing more than curling up next to us watching your favourite shows. You are big, but you are still so little. When you’re sad or scared, you want me to sit cross legged and wrap you in my arms and clothes with me. If your tummy hurts, you like to lay there whilst I rub it better. Even now you like having your hair stroked as you fall asleep.
These last few months have unleashed a real adventurer in you. We spend hours in the woods as you clamber in hedgerows, leap from banks and hide behind trees. You’re full of questions and constantly wanting to re-enact things you’ve seen or learnt. Most importantly, you are kind. You treat your sister with an affection that makes my heart explode. Even in the moments when she pushes you too far, you can’t be mad at her for long. You want her there with you; playing, eating, sleeping, and if you’re not laughing together like crazies, you’re talking to her in your ‘parent’ voice. As I tell you often, you are such a good big brother. She adores everything about you.
This year is definitely going to change things and as you start school in September, I hope you’ll continue to grow into the boy we know you are. You’ll make new friends, play with old ones and at some point you’re going to have to wear clothes again for an entire day. Good luck to anyone trying to get you to brush your hair though… we’ll save that battle for photo days.
I’m going to wind this up with the same phrase most parents say: I can’t believe that you’re four. I feel like I blinked and that happened. I’m going to try not to blink too often I think.
Let’s see what four brings. Happy birthday Baby.
ps. If you could crack sleeping through this year, I’d be REALLY grateful.