Today you turn four. FOUR! How is that possible? Where did my little baby go? Those toddler rolls have stretched out into lean preschooler limbs and infancy has fallen away from you like a coat you have outgrown.
You have grown in confidence amazingly, showing bravery and perseverance. I remember the time, around three and a half, when you climbed past a dad at soft play without a second thought. Not so long ago you would have lingered awkwardly, unsure whether to advance, casting looks back towards me for reassurance. When we first visited theme parks last summer you were cautious about some of the faster rides, but gradually your confidence has increased there too. You also put in the effort and really learned to ride your balance bike. You can’t wait to upgrade to a pedal bike and I expect it won’t be long.
You started gymnastics just after you turned three. You loved it from the first moment and I watched you grow in confidence there too. You started off listening carefully and following instructions, but often you would wait at a particular point, wanting the reassurance of adult hands to guide you through the movement. Now you attempt every activity with zeal and the knowledge that you can make your body do what you want it to. You started ballet in January and you loved that instantly too. You are so graceful and you concentrate so hard. Watching you is pure delight.
You love to dance and sing and entertain people. You like to sit at the table and eat with us, sharing in the communion of a meal together. You like to help me cook and you have started helping me to measure out ingredients.
You have encountered lots of new characters this year, both on screen and on the page. You recently discovered Roald Dahl and have enjoyed several of his shorter stories. There are so many great books I can’t wait to explore with you. You have mastered a range of apps and use the iPad like a pro. You love dot-to-dot books and sticker books and always want to understand the precise instructions when undertaking an activity. You are interested in numbers – and letters to a lesser degree – and amazed me recently when we made a chart to countdown the days until Mummy finishes work and you wrote every number yourself without any help.
You learned to tell jokes this year, which at first were nonsensical versions of a basic structure (“What do X eat for their breakfast?”). Eventually though, we taught you a little repertoire which you loved, including a couple of knock-knock jokes and one you particularly loved about a bath-averse fairy called Stinkerbell.
You have an amazing way of explaining things, with a tone of voice and expression that are just delightful. Mostly you like to start your explanations with: “Because that’s why…” which is an adorable turn of phrase.
You love presents and birthdays and Christmas. The excitement is almost too much. You pore over catalogues listing the items you would like. You want lots of things and the waiting is so, so hard. But you love to give too and you learned about surprises this year and how to keep gifts secret until the receiver opens them.
You love to dress up and since Halloween when I (perhaps foolishly) introduced you to the concept of face paint, you have loved having your face painted. You have been a range of different characters and I have loved your enthusiasm for every one. Occasionally, you even take it upon yourself to do it!
You love so much. Too much, is what you like to say. And none of us really have the heart to tell you that it’s impossible to love too much – that our love for you is as infinite as yours. You love your family, you love your friends – you have several best friends – but, of course, you have an extra special bond with your sister. You love playing together as much as you love tormenting one another, but the affection you hold for each other never really falters.
You are so full of life and wonder and enthusiasm I am amazed you don’t burst. I can’t wait to see what exciting things we will explore together over the next year.
What a year it has been, my amazing four-year-old! You continue to show us your fire and your compassion in equal measure. You are stubborn and insistent. You think logically and can usually suggest a compromise that is less of a compromise for you. You know what you want and what you like. You spent most of the winter in short sleeves and now the sun has come out you keep insisting on two long-sleeved tops, but your fashion sense is incredible and I wouldn’t have it any other way!
You are very attuned to distress. If you hear someone crying you want to know if they are okay, you can sense when one of us is stressed or upset. At the park you will often be seen helping a smaller child. You like to teach and to share your knowledge. You give clear and careful instructions and you know how to encourage.
You are so strong and so active. If there is something that can be climbed, you climb it; something that can be dangled from, you dangle from it. You know your own limits and what your body can do, although there was one hair-raising moment recently when you tried to do some gymnastics at the top of a climbing frame and had to be rescued.
You started gymnastics about six months after your sister. We think the distress of some of the children at being left there for the trial session upset you too much. But after a few months of watching from the corridor, playing either on the iPad or with some of the younger siblings, you decided to give it another go. The same week, you decided to take ballet on too. You haven’t looked back.
You have started naming your toys and dolls this year. Topsy-Baby has a spotty babygro, like Topsy’s t-shirt in Topsy and Tim. Daisy-Baby has a daisy on the front of hers. Lots of babies get called Isabelle because you like the name, I suppose. I’m not quite sure what the explanation is for Sparkler and Dave:
You love to go on public transport – something we have done much more of since we ditched the buggy. You really like to sit by the window so lots of prep is needed before we board a busy train or bus to make sure you understand this might not be possible. Your favourite thing to do is to ride on the top deck of a “double decko” bus. We have explored all sorts of exciting places this year and the thrill-seeker in you has delighted in trying out new theme park rides, from the Bubbleworks to Tomb Blaster to Pirate Falls to the “Buccany Boat”, no ride is too extreme for you. You even like to lift your hands from the safety bar and put your arms in the air now.
I can only imagine where your tenacity will take you and I hope I can join you on the ride!