My gosh, what a year it has been.
When I sat here twelve months ago I definitely did not foresee the challenges your eighth year would hold: a global pandemic, months of lockdown, and a house move to boot.
If I had, though, I reckon I might have had an inkling about how well you would rise to those challenges. You have been incredible, and I am so grateful to have had you on our team as we weathered the storm.
It has been a year when your creativity, resilience and resourcefulness have been pushed to the limits. Your ability to lose yourself in endless play, to build your own entertainment, and to imagine a whole world of possibility even when (especially when) the world outside our walls seemed desperately bleak.
You’ve felt that pressure too, of course. You’ve missed your friends, your extended family, the ease of our everyday explorations. But you’ve been able to talk about it, which is awesome. You’ve been able to articulate when it’s all felt too much, when the strangeness of things has sunk into sadness or swelled into anger. It’s a skill that will serve you well as you navigate your way through life – because if there’s one thing you can be sure of, it’s that life won’t always be easy.
There are always things you can do to ease your soul though, from heading outside and seeking solace from nature to snuggling on the sofa with a movie. We’ve done lots of both this year, and they’ve been some of my favourite times.
I’ve loved the many ways you’ve enjoyed spending time with your brother, too. The (temporary) loss of your friends and playmates has most definitely been his gain: I have watched as you’ve initiated him into your games, taught him how to give and take, led him on adventures. Three is pretty little to an eight year old, I realise that. But then you’ve always been a pretty awesome playing teacher.
You’ve kept pushing at the edges of your comfort zone – and it’s visibly enabling you to grow. You’ve overcome your anxiety around putting pen to paper, and brought hundreds of deftly drawn characters to life. You’ve braved the waves in wild and chilly seas – my cold water swim buddy in training! And you’ve totally got to grips with Zoom: it may be no real substitute for in person hangs, but it’s opened up a whole other avenue for chatting and learning which will broaden your horizons forever.
Through all of this you have become more grounded. More confident. More assuredly yourself.
I wonder often how different things would be if you were enrolled at school. It’s getting increasingly impossible to imagine you there if I’m honest. I will keep checking in, making sure that you’re happy with this alternative path we’re carving together.
But for now, in spite of everything, you are thriving.
All my love for always,