I have been bombarded with Facebook memories of you over the past couple of weeks, and they have taken my breath away.
It is hard to believe that you were ever that tiny – though if I close my eyes it feels like only moments ago that you were curled up on my chest, tiny hands resting against my skin.
Now I find myself constantly surprised by how long your limbs have grown, seeing you stretch them out as we sit back on the sofa to watch a movie or wind the day down with giggles and stories in your room. More often than not you will change yourself into your pyjamas now, expertly manoeuvring your way out of the sleeves which a few short months ago outwitted you every time. There are still some days when tiredness defeats you, when you ask me to negotiate your clothes over those long limbs. It used to frustrate me – the knowledge that you were fully capable of completing this task yourself and yet still insisted on my help. Now, though, the day when you will no longer seek my assistance creeps ever closer, so I will relish comforting you through this most basic care whenever I can.
You are still my baby.
This is such a time of transition, for both of us. The arrival of your brother has brought home starkly how much bigger you have gotten, in both body and spirit, and yet has reminded us both of the beauty of those endless snuggles from a time when you needed me more. Tonight, after we had said goodnight and shut your door, leaving you to play because you insisted you weren’t tired and would put yourself to bed, you snuck back out to Orson’s room where Daddy and I were tickling him into his sleep suit. You watched for a while, and kissed your brother goodnight. And then you wrapped me up in the biggest hug before asking me to tuck you in, your mop of blond hair spilling out over your pillow and your audiobook held tight against your ear.
When you sleep the veil drops, and it is easier to remember just how little you still are.
When you are awake, even your rapidly growing body has trouble containing your even more rapidly expanding brain. It is hungry for knowledge and adventure, new connections zinging around and out into the world, that imagination we have watched flourish over the past few years fuelling hours of play. And learning; you are always learning.
We made a big decision as a family this year, one which we continue to evaluate and discuss, and that was the decision not to send you to school. I am so thankful for that. Your self-styled education is taking you in different directions to your peers, but you are thriving on the freedom and diversity it affords us.
You are a consummate conversationalist, with a vocabulary and turns of phrase that surprise me every day. You are confident enough to speak with adults, even those you do not know well, and adaptable enough to chat with children of all ages. You love spending time with your cousins, and with friends old and new.
You love stories: reading them, watching them in films or on the stage, telling your own alone or with others. You are beginning to be fascinated by the language that creates them – reading pictures and words, and breaking down the letters that form the codes we all rely on.
Most of all you love to play. You can lose yourself for hours in the worlds you create, constructing props and backdrops from whatever comes to hand – lego, cardboard boxes, sticks. You love to experiment too, to learn about science and your body and the environment that surrounds us.
It’s all play to you, and I hope it stays that way for a long while yet.
I am excited about what this year will bring – about the adventures we have planned, and about the journeys you and your brother will take our family on.
Thank you, as ever, for all the things you teach me.
All my love for always,