Oh, big L, my first little love: you’re about to be four.
So many of your t-shirts are too short again. They look like that top Mark Owen wore in the video for ‘Relight My Fire’.
Often, you pick out trousers from the wardrobe that look as if they’re at half mast once you’ve got them on. They flutter somewhere between your knees and the tops of your favourite flashy shoes, but I swear they fitted fine just a few weeks ago.
You’re always talking, all the time. If you haven’t got something crucially important to tell me, you’ve inevitably got a question to ask. Why do sharks have to live under the water? When will there be baby ducks at the pond again? What’s for tea tonight? Please can it not be cheesy pasta…?
Is Donald Trump a bad man? Well, why is he in charge of America then?
(I’ll have to get back to you on that one.)
We’re all still getting to know you, and it’s amazing fun. You make us laugh every day. You’re a bizarre melding of your father (whose super-relaxed ‘it’ll all turn out fine in the end’ philosophy is, annoyingly, yet to be disproven) and me: slightly toothoughtful sometimes, and a bit of a control freak.
You’re happy for someone else to get you dressed in the mornings, lying lazily supine on your bedroom floor while I, in a desperate bid to get everyone out of the house on time, ooze your chubby legs into your joggers. But heaven forbid anybody should hang your blankies on the radiator incorrectly.
You’re amazingly bossy for one so young. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone under four feet tall utter phrases like ‘I really have had enough of this’, ‘I am not going to stand for any more of your NONSENSE, Mummy’ and ‘I’m going to sit in the dining room now so I can HAVE SOME PEACE from you lot,’ with such conviction. For this, I absolutely blame myself.
You’re gentle. You have your boisterous moments, and goodness knows you’ve made your little sister cry a few times since she came along and started trashing your toys. But the deepest part of you is gentle.
You still haven’t quite noticed that you’re half as big again as many kids your age, and you tolerate the unreasonable behaviour of some without recourse to thumping them – despite this being the obvious, and in some cases quite justifiable, reaction.
You think before you act, and you’ve always been wary of hurting yourself or anybody else. You never were that kid who came down the slide head first at soft play. This will stand you in good stead as you get older – but don’t let thinking give way to worrying, or allow contemplating and planning to stop you from doing. Not everything can be a known quantity.
You’re funny, and you understand that sometimes the best way out of an argument is to laugh at how silly we’re both being when we’re cross with one another. Your knock-knock jokes need work, but we’ve got plenty of time.
Most nights, you throw yourself into my lap for a cuddle when you’re sopping wet and just out of the bath. Your timing is terrible, you resist any attempts to dry you first, and I always end up soggy. Sometimes you squeeze me so tight that it feels as if I’ll suffocate from the fierceness of your strong little arms around my neck, and you whisper that you love me just loud enough so I can hear over your baby sister’s insistent demands for her bedtime milk. It makes my heart full.
You watch some truly weird shit on the telly. Transformers: Rescue Bots is obviously amazing, and I can just about tolerate Paw Patrol (although if anyone can explain to me why Mayor Goodway permanently sounds like she’s about to have a nervous breakdown and carries a chicken in her handbag, I would be most grateful). However, I’m glad you seem to have accepted that the weird vegetable programme on Netflix is a load of cobblers – and I’m not at all sorry you seem to believe that Mickey House Clubhouse is only available to view on your grandparents’ TV.
You’re empathetic, amazingly so for a four year old, and I’m proud of you for that. When we watched ‘A Close Shave’ in bed that morning and you cried when Gromit was wrongfully imprisoned, I laughed and hugged you and told you it would be okay, and we pressed on and kept watching until the end.
The sadness you felt for that fictional dog was so deep, and your relief at his escape so real, that I will remember it for ever.
You’re inherently kind. I think it was Albus Dumbledore (more on him in a few years) who, in a movie or a book somewhere, pointed out that people never fail to undervalue kindness. Honestly, though, that doesn’t matter.
No act of kindness is ever wasted, and I promise it’s sometimes the smallest things we do, or don’t do, or say, or don’t say, that make the biggest differences to the people around us.
Giving someone’s hand a squeeze when they’re scared; sharing your snack with someone who’s forgotten theirs today; holding a door open for someone who’s struggling to get through; reaching out to the quiet kid who doesn’t quite know how to get in the game; these are all things I know you have done, and that I know you will continue to do, as you enter the fifth year of your incredible little life.
Always be kind, my darling, and always be you – no matter how tall, clever and grown up you become as time marches on.
I love you, never-endingly and always, with strawberries and blueberries on top,