Dear Mr S,
Happy Birthday little man!! Today you turn seven. How those seven years have flown! It’s a cliche, but some days it feels like you’re growing up in the blink of an eye. Despite you flying through the stages of childhood, each stage gets better and better and the stage you’re in now is a wonderful one, full of discovery, exploration and learning.
And, as a bonus, you’re big enough to help around the house more. Once you’ve trained up your brothers your mama is planning on retiring from household duties – nearly time for you take the household jobs reins right?
Anyway, seven years. And how you’ve grown. You are racing through clothes sizes. It feels like we buy you new shirts and trousers one minute, and the next minute we put them away in a plastic rollbox under our bed, waiting in storage for your brothers to grow.
It doesn’t matter that you no longer fit in the crook of my arm. Truth be told you haven’t for years. In fact, sometimes it’s a a struggle to lift you at all now. You’ve gotten big. And heavy. But thankfully I don’t have to carry you often, only when you’re ill, when a virus floors you. And you become small and helpless again.
But it’s not just physically you are growing, it’s in so many ways. You’ve started asking lots of questions, you want to know why and how things happen. You’ve started to look deeper into the world around you, questions ranging from how a plane stays in the sky to where exactly babies come out of a mama.
You’re reading in two languages, and amaze us with how much you can read in your second language when we’ve not pushed you to read English, letting you concentrate on Dutch and what you are doing in school. We wanted to let you go at your own pace, but still you pick up English early readers and read us stories at bedtime. You’re writing – deftig writing. A new word learnt in school every week: starting with ik, maan, roos, vis and currently uil. You’re stuck between being proud of being able to write and being bored with it because you need to concentrate so hard – after all you’ve not lost your perfectionist trait and having to use that eraser irks you.
Which reminds me – it’s been a tough year for you little man. You changed schools, swapped the teachers, classmates and corridors you knew so well for unfamiliar faces and strange classrooms. But you blossomed, took it all on board as a positive change and haven’t looked back. You’ve been welcomed in your new school with understanding and acceptance; all your highly sensitive traits acknowledged, acceptance that you need quiet time in the classroom, understanding about thinking deep and emotionally about the world around you. Instead of being dismissed, you are now listened to. Your juf gets you, doesn’t deny how tired you feel (doesn’t sarcastically suggest you go to bed), doesn’t dismiss how full your bucket is, instead she encourages you to take time out, teaches you to acknowledge your own needs and encourages you to create a quiet space for yourself. She’s helping you bloom instead of leaving you to shrivel. She’s helping you grow. She’s helping you build solid foundations.
And because you’ve found a classroom you feel comfortable in, you are shining at home too. We see more of the real Mr S coming through, instead of the tired, angry boy that dominated you a year ago. What a difference! Watching you play with your two younger brothers, watching you help them gain their independence with little gestures, watching you protect them, all leaves us smiling. It gives us the confirmation we need that fighting for you in school last year, for standing our ground, was worth every cross word, every meeting, every inch we had to fight for, and eventually the tough to decision to make a change.
So, not only are you learning lots yourself Mr S, you’re teaching us lots too. I’ve learnt so much about myself watching you grow, I accept my highly sensitive traits now too – because you’ve shown me just how positive seeing the world through your eyes is. You’ve taught us that change is sometimes necessary to move forward, even though it seems so difficult. You’ve taught us to trust our instinct, go with our feelings because when we announced you were moving schools your response was, “Leuk!” It was a positive reaction, because you knew you were in the wrong place, though you couldn’t put those feelings into words. It didn’t feel right. Now it does. What a strength of character you have – to embrace change, and make it work for you in a way we could never have imagined.
And yet, you remain a little boy. For me, you will always be my baby, no matter how many candles sit upon your birthday cake. I hope you will keep wanting to take my hand on the walk to school for a little while longer, that you never get tired of hugs from us and that you keep cherishing the role you have as a big brother. Keep making your own path, deciding your own way of doing things and never lose sight of the fact that you know your own mind – your instincts are spot on so trust them. May you stay strong but sensitive.
We hope you love your Spiderman party today, make the most of your special day and enjoy those gathering together today in honour of you turning seven.
Happy 7th birthday Mr S!
Lots and lots of love and cuddles,
Mama & Papa