To Pip Squeak, on your third birthday.
Yes, third. I know you’ve decided that you’re going to be four, and occasionally six, just so that you can keep up with your big sisters, but it’s enough of a challenge for me to recognise that you’re turning three, and not still that not so tiny baby I brought home from the hospital what seems like only a couple of days ago. Don’t go wishing your years away little boy; the first three have flown past for me and time only seems to be speeding up.
As I write this you’re asleep in the room next door, snuggled down on your pillow with your arms flopped back above your head and it’s easy to see the baby you once were, but are very definitely no longer.
This has been the year when you emerged from your babyhood and became every inch my little boy; you’ve lost that baby roundness that I could still just about see in the snippets at the start of your birthday video, and the more you run and jump and hide and play and run some more you’ve got stronger and stronger. Part of it is being out of nappies, and part of it is that you’ve shot up several inches. Again. You still greet people you’re particularly fond of by running into them full tilt, the only difference is now we’re bracing ourselves for the impact, and more than once I’ve felt myself stumbling backwards to catch both of us.
I don’t know exactly how tall you are right now, but I know I’m buying age 4-5 clothes and hoping they’ll have a smidgen of room to grow in them. You’re wearing size 8 shoes, but I strongly suspect that you’ve grown out of them and we need a trip to the shoe shop before term starts.
You have always been the most outdoors of my babies, and it’s still true; your favourite activity in the old house was digging a hole underneath the play house (that we discovered when we kicked a football underneath it and it disappeared!!), you loved moving a mole hill around while we were living in the tent (to the point that the molehill had to be topped up again), and there’s a curious patch underneath the swing in our garden, right about where someone has left a tiny spade, which rather suggests that a certain someone may have been digging! Our garden here doesn’t have access to the road unless you go through the house or the garage and I love that you can explore and re-landscape to your heart’s content (though please leave the lawn alone, it has actual grass, rather than the moss with occasional blade of green in the last house).
The biggest change in you this year has to be in your speech; you are a wonderful little chatterbox and I love that you come out with things that you’ve clearly been pondering for a while, even when they’re a complete change in conversation. Everything has this wonderful logic about it too. I wasn’t actually there for my favourite of the year, you were in the car with your auntie, trundling along, only to confidently announce: “Cows poo but stinging nettles don’t!”
You love tractors and engines, and living on a farm with actual tractors was your dream come true, and no excuse was too small to go for a little walk to see what the tractor was doing; I’m certain that one of your golden memories of this summer was helping your uncle to fix a puncture in the tractor tyre.
As for the engines, earlier this year I took you to the toy shop for a Mummy and Pip special treat, and you chose the Duchess of Hamilton replica wooden train; she’s been your favourite ever since, and even more so when you realised that there’s an actual real Duchess, and that YouTube has videos of her in action. So much of the packing up of our old house happened to a soundtrack of a very plummy BBC announcer narrating some 1937 footage, and one of my golden memories from this summer was when you came face to face with the real train at the National Railway Museum at York. Every day you ask me what colour train I took to work, and give me a long assessing look as if to check that I’m giving the right answer.
It makes you sound like every stereotype of a little boy doesn’t it, railways and tractors, getting muddy and always being on the move, but it’s only part of your personality. At the moment your favourite colour is still pink, and your favourite rainy day activity is painting, closely followed by colouring in (preferably in one of your sisters’ colouring books if you think you can get away with it!).
As for those big sisters of yours, I think this is the year when their crowns may have slipped a bit; no longer are they adored heroes, purveyors of mischief, entertainment and purloined chocolate, but co-conspirators, up to equal amounts of mischief but with a greater potential for falling out. It’s all part of the sibling relationship, and I can see in how you play with both girls just how much you love them. I’m glad you have them, and they you.
You are my best beloved boy; Happy Birthday,