As I sit down to write this letter to you on your fourth birthday, I can’t quite believe where the last 4 years have gone. It seems like only a few months ago that I held you in my hands as a tiny baby, and yet so much has changed in that time, and especially in this last year. This has been the year that you’ve gone from a toddler to a little boy – almost imperceptible changes, but when I look at you now, you are so much a little boy that I’m still a bit taken aback at times.
This has been the year that you’ve become a big brother, and it’s a role that I couldn’t have ever imagined you’d fill so easily. I know what a big thing it was to go from being the centre of our world, to sharing the limelight with your little brother. But I can honestly say that in watching you become a big brother I’ve seen you blossom. I’ve realised how kind and generous you are, and also how in touch with other people’s emotions you can be. You’ll try to cheer Ben up if he’s upset, or hold his hand when you’re both in your car seats. So often this year when I’ve been struggling with Ben, you’ve come over to give me a hug, and told me “calm down Mummy, he’s just crying”. Ben absolutely adores you as well – his eyes just follow you around the room, watching you in awe, and you’re always the person who can cheer him up when he’s a bit grumpy. I’m so proud of you when I watch you playing together and I know you’re going to be best friends as you grow up together.
This has been the year when you’ve grown in confidence and started to embrace all of the things you’ve been nervous to try before. Three has been the year that I’ve seen you really start to get confident in showing your personality to other people, rather than just to us at home. When you started pre-school it was so strange to hear you described as quiet and shy – it seemed hard to reconcile that with the overexcited chatterbox I saw at home. But as the year has progressed, you’ve come out of your shell and it’s clear to everyone that you’re quite the little extrovert. You’re happy to make friends with everyone, from your classmates at nursery, to the Tesco delivery man, to other children at the park. You love to sing and insist on having the Frozen soundtrack on in the car constantly – and if we don’t all sing along, we’re in trouble!
It’s also been the year when you’ve managed to master controlling your emotions. You’ve always been a child who feels things more deeply and strongly than a lot of other children, so I suppose it’s unsurprising that you struggled with this over the last few years. You’d get angry easily, and end up so cross and upset that you didn’t even know what was upsetting you, let alone find the right words to get it all out. And yet in the last few months you’ve come out the other side of it all and you’ve finally found the words to explain things and control those big emotions. As hard as it’s been, I think your sensitivity is one of your biggest strengths and one that will take you far in life.
When I look back to a year ago, there were still so many things that you didn’t want to try. You’re one of the most cautious children I’ve come across and there has never been a time when I’ve had to worry about you getting too close to water, or putting things in your mouth that you shouldn’t, or climbing too high, or jumping off something from a great height. That’s not to say I haven’t worried – I’m a natural worrier! But this year you’ve become so much braver and more accepting of new experiences. You were still refusing to use your scooter this time last year, too put off by wearing your helmet to want to give it a go. There was a time that I thought you’d never want to use your scooter, and yet here we are, with you scooting away like a pro!
This has been the year that you’ve embraced wearing wellies and stomping through every muddy puddle you can find. I think most parents give a big sigh as they see their child jumping through puddles, getting their clothes dirty, but not me. You missed out on that joy for so long that I love seeing you have so much fun enjoying the things that I think make a childhood – ending the day with mud on your face, sand in your shoes and damp clothes is the sign of a good day!
We’ve had so many wonderful adventures together this year. I felt so guilty at the start of the year that the frequency of our little trips had slowed down as I struggled with being pregnant with Ben. You took it all in your stride though and never seemed put out. But when I look back, we’ve had some fabulous little trips this year. From walks in the woods to see the bluebells, heading to the pumpkin fields to pick our perfect pumpkin, picking strawberries in the summer, picnics, and making the most of our Merlin passes with numerous trips to Legoland and Chessington. But nowhere has such a special place in my heart as St Ives. We’ve had a few trips there this year and it’s been wonderful to see you discover a love of the beach. Whereas you always hated the sand before, suddenly you like nothing more than digging holes or building sandcastles, or running away from the waves. You talk all the time about wanting to go back to ‘the holiday house’ and I think St Ives has earned a special place in your heart, just as it has with the rest of the family.
I love your boundless energy and enthusiasm that shows no signs of waning as you get older. Whatever you do, you throw yourself into it 100% and the joy on your face is clear to see. I’m never happier than when you grab my hand and place it inside your little one and lead me off on a mission to jump in a rocket to the moon, or to put out a fire, or to step aboard a pirate ship. But as well as your wonderful imagination, you’re such a little professor, and you’re fascinated by how things work. I think you understand it better than me actually – I’ve never had that kind of mind, so it amazes me to see you grasp these things so easily.
This next year holds so many big moments for you. I can’t believe that you’ll be starting school in September and I know that even though I still have 5 months to get my head around it, that it will come as a shock to see you standing there all tiny in your school uniform. My little baby, the one who made me a mummy, the one who I’ve learnt with as we’ve gone along – you’re so close to starting school, and as much as I don’t think you’re ready, I’m not sure I ever would!
Happy 4th birthday Max – I’m so proud of the fantastic little boy you are, and I can’t wait to join you on all of your adventures in your fourth year.