Go shorty, it’s your birthday, we’re gonna party like it’s your birthday!!!
Alexander, my baby, my babyfied boy (whoops!) is growing up *weep and as it’s his sixth birthday today, I’ve written a post TO him, ABOUT him on what I’ve learned about my almond eyed charismatic cutie in the 6 years he’s been on this planet, for.
Happy Birthday my precious second-born, my forever-baby.
This what I’ve learned about you, so far, son ( I hope it doesn’t make you cringe when you’re 16, I’ll delete it if it does but lets print it out first for prosperity, yeah*).
You are attentive and loving, demonstrably so, kissing and cuddling us all at every opportunity and showing that you care. You like to climb onto mine and Daddy’s lap and you often crawl into our bed in the early hours (three animal teddies in hand, no less), cuddling up close, telling me you wish you were still in my tummy, stroking my hair and planting kisses on my sleepy head. Nothing beats that sweet, honey-scented skin of yours (the baby scent which never went away) or the way you hold my hand, your little palm in mine. Your only wish is that your brother would reciprocate your love, more often, more visibly and deeper but he does loves you, even if he won’t admit it.
You both bicker lots (which always ends up in you crying and not your brother) but your bond grows stronger with each year you spend together, side by side, bed by bed, and seeing photos like these, make my heart swell with pride: my boys.
Oh Xander (sorry, Alexander as you prefer but lazy Mummy finds a pain with all those syllables!), you ask to brush my hair, you notice when I put on a new frock (if only your father did) and you tell Daddy and I that we’re ‘beautiful’ most days. You’re like a motivational Pinterest pic in 3D. Your positivity is infectious.
You’re also wise beyond your 6 years. I often ask you for advice which while ludicrous to write, makes sense to those who know you. Like your brother, you were born wise and I love to ponder the purity of your thoughts. I think parents should ask the opinions of their kids more. It’s only then that you can connect with how your children see the world and the way they problem-solve for themselves.
Your ability to know what’s right from wrong (inherently, and also taught by us) and the searing honesty in which you share your thoughts (as only the very young and old can) feels so incredibly vital in these morally ambiguous times of fake news and untruths.
Last night, scrolling through Instagram, I stopped, the self-doubt creeping in, the ‘I’m not good enough’ default mode switched on (which usually hits when I’m suffering from sleep-deprivation or overwhelm), and I asked you, almost 6 year old you, what I should do. I explained that sometimes I see others and feel I should be doing what they’re doing, that I see their jobs and adventures and wish I could do the same. He replied without pause, ‘So, DO what they are doing. Do their job. Go on their adventures with them. Do something to make you feel happy’. When I answered that I can’t do any of that right now he replied I should simply, ‘Eat cookies’ smiling widely.
…You and Oliver have strength I didn’t know existed and were two mighty mini mes of support when we lost our darling Zak, my Auntie, and your godmother (the bond you had brings tears to my eyes as I type. I’ll never forget you waiting by the door of the villa we stayed in, in Marbella one Easter, where Zak lived, patiently waiting for her to collect us each morning, arms flailing, you shouting her name in joy as she arrived). The FaceTimes you shared together, the conversations you had about nursery, your little friends or the clothes she’d bought you, and her bidding you goodnight, will never be forgotten. The connection between you both remains. You speak of her often. You will never stop speaking of her often. She lives on in you Xander.
Again, you and your brother surprised me with your strength when I underwent a thyroid op three months back. The attention and care you showered upon me helped me to heal emotionally and physically. The understanding and patience you gave me when I wasn’t able to do what I used to, for a while such as run, lift you or even speak properly at times due to the acute pain, helped me to overcome the trauma day by day. The fact you were both so well behaved during my recovery too, helped hugely.
I’m sorry you had to see Mummy so ill and tearful but I know it showed you that parents are vulnerable too, and that by sharing problems and leaning on family, you can feel better and recover.
You kept me strong by your presence, your sparkling eyes and also your touching words particularly as I feared the operation. I always thought providing strength was my job, until I witnessed your many promises of, ‘You will be fine Mummy, they will cut your head off and put you back together again, no worries’.
Thank you. You will never know the affect your unwavering assurance meant to me.
I love that you describe yourself as fearless.
‘I’m not scared of anything, Mummy’ you tell me over and over when I fret and worry over you. And you’re rarely frightened. You head for the scariest rides at the fair and want to climb the highest of walls in Windsor. Watching you signing my books on launch day in front of a room full of people at the Royal Garden Hotel brought tears to my eyes.
We all need to channel your courage, Alexander, and I think of you when it wanes in me.
You’re also the comedian of the family and often say, ‘I just want to make people laugh’, or ‘Did you laugh then, Mummy?’ and ‘Were you laughing at me?’ inventing jokes and delighting in my latest, crazy ‘Swear School’ invention where you roar with that contagious laugh of yours, as we repeat mild (not really swear words) like, ‘butt’, ‘boobies’ and ‘dingbat’ and collapse in giggles.
‘Have I graduated yet?’ you ask!
You are a creative soul like your folks, and love to draw. Dogs, dinosaurs, cakes and bears are your current faves. You enjoy independent play and could while away hours on your own with your LEGO but you’ve grown in confidence at school and have made some close friendships with boys and girls, many who are coming to your very first birthday party on Saturday (you shunned parties until now) and we can’t wait to celebrate your day with you.
This year marks a greater understanding of birthday and becoming older. You ran into my bedroom hands out to show me you’d turned 6 and asked me if you’ll now move classrooms again (you won’t) or if you’re face might change (not likely).
…You revel in inventing stories- silly, long-winded, imaginative vignettes mostly inspired by the short fairytales you read before bed, re imagining them for yourself, ‘Jack ate his beans and became the stalk’ which makes Oliver roll his eyes, and Mummy and Daddy laugh out loud.
You like to wear sunglasses in all seasons and have been stealing my hats since you were teeny tiny!
Languages are your thing and you love to share the French an Greek words you’ve learned, and look forward to French Club every week. Football is another passion although I hate the pressure you feel to perform in games at times. I want you to enjoy the game for what it is. Fun.
You’re not so keen on swimming but are preserving and you’ve recently rediscovered the joy tennis brings.
And boy, do you LOVE the camera, so much so, you tantrum if you’re not being filmed and beg me to ‘Do Lives’ most days. My Mum tells me I was exactly the same at your age! The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, then.
Another love inherited from me is food. It’s wonderful to witness you exploring new tastes and textures whenever we eat out. It’s always a pleasure eating and also baking with you. Your favourite food right now is veggie sushi and ALL the noodles doused in soy sauce. You love a bit of spice too!
Oh Xander you are a delight to be around: lovable, little (ish), confident, caring, cute as can be and OURS. How lucky are we?
*You know that thing I said about deleting this post? Can we just talk about it first!