Today you are 11 years old. It is 11 years since I first met you and held you in my arms. You were a determined little chap even then. In your first 24 hours, you lay on my chest and you lifted your head up to look at me. All the books said you shouldn’t be able to do that yet, but you’d not read the book, or any of the other parenting manuals, so you’ve never really followed the suggested timeline of things. You’ve always written your own pages, developed at your own pace and done your growing up on your own terms. I hope you know that I admire you hugely for that.
As I write this, you are almost as tall as me and soon you will be the one reaching for things in hard to reach kitchen cupboards for me. You are as stubborn as a field of mules and push back harder than a bulldozer, I suspect your teenage years will be both colourful and challenging. I only hope that I am able to support you as you grow and you know that whatever life throws at you, good or bad, that I will be there to help you through the bad times and cheer wildly all of your successes.
I write you a letter like this every year, and what a year it has been. The coronavirus has meant that for at least half of the last 12 months we have been in some kind of lockdown or reduced social circumstances. You’ve handled this beautifully, you’ve understood why you couldn’t see friends, have a 10th birthday party; why we ate Christmas dinner outside while it snowed and why so many of our usual days out and fun things had more or less stopped. Like many, you have railed against the injustice of missing out on meeting up with your friends, but you’ve been great at making the best of things, and that’s all I could ever ask of you.
In the last 12 months we have finally (finally!) got a diagnosis of dyspraxia for you. This explains all kinds of things about you and the many ways you are unique and wonderful and challenging and amazing. Yes, life will always hold some struggles for you, but I hope you know that your brain difference can be a kind of superpower for you. You are brilliant and you see the world in the kinds of colourful and exciting ways that I can only dream of. Along with the challenges which face you, you are blessed with enormous gifts and people admire you.
Yes, people really do admire you. They love your kindness and sense of humour, your capacity for caring for others. They love your enthusiasm for life; your ability to chat to anyone who will listen to you about whatever your topic of the day is. You’re an only child, but you can get along with pretty much anyone and you have no problems sharing or anything like that. In fact you’re incredibly generous with your things and always save me some of your sweets or whatever treats you have. You have a kind and generous soul and I hope people don’t take advantage of that or you.
Today you are 11. I know time marches on, but I can’t quite believe my tiny baby is a strapping lad on the verge of secondary school. The next 12 months will see lots of changes coming your way. It’ll all be alright, secondary school will be brilliant for you and I hope they will help you be the best that you can be.
I’m so glad that we are able to give you a birthday party this year. I am so glad the whole family can gather for a meal to celebrate your 11 years in this planet. I’m so glad I’ve known you all this time; I can honestly say that it has been nothing short of a privilege to watch you grow and to have you in my life.
Happy birthday to my best boy. I love you to the moon and the stars and the planets and back!