As you turn 7 and 5 – a birthday post

How many sleeps until our party, mummy? / How many sleeps until our birthday, mummy? / And how many sleeps until MY party, mummy?

This has been the soundtrack in our house for the last couple of weeks at least. Three little boys, with birthdays two days apart – the first being tomorrow.  Piled in the corner of my bedroom are party bags, pass the parcel fillers, presents and cards. There is a giant penguin cake under several sheets of foil in the kitchen, and another cake waiting to be transformed into a space rocket.

Birthday season is well and truly underway – one little boy is approaching 7, and two are approaching 5.

7 and 5.

7 and 5!

I am having a bit of trouble with this one – these ages sound…..well, not grown up; but not really like I still have little ones. In my head, it feels like the baby/toddler years weren’t that long ago, but then when I’m out and I see mums with change bags and prams, mums trying to get babies to sleep, mums heading off to baby massage classes, mums lugging around car seats and mums putting babies in highchairs I realise that yes, we are well and truly in a different stage now.

Part of me still misses the baby and toddler days, but then another part of me loves the ages we are at right now. I feel I spend a lot of time either looking back, feeling apprehensive about the future, or attempting to cling onto the present (only the good bits, obviously).

So this is my attempt to cling onto the right now – little snapshots of you, my three beautiful boys, as you approach 7 and 5.

Eldest boy:

You are: 

Confident in your own quiet way, cautious, determined, hungry for knowledge, routine-loving, easily pleased, inquisitive, uncoordinated; an old-fashioned soul in a fast-moving world.eldest boy reading

You love: 

Books, maps, train timetables, names, lists, dates, football, kings, queens, dates of birth, a family tree, cosy jumpers, a hearty meal, twiddling your hair, school, answers to questions, Christine and the Queens; days at home with a pen in your hand, books and plenty of paper.

You can often be found: 

At a table with a pen and reams of paper, making lists.

Sitting on your bedroom floor surrounded by books.

In the garden playing football with your own running commentary and a list of scores by the door ready to update when necessary.

Likely to say: 

‘I have made up a new train line, mummy. It goes from Chorleywood to Aston Clinton.’

‘I’m going to draw another map of my made up town, North Moor.’

‘How many caps did Luther Blissett get for England, daddy?’

‘I still have quite a bit of my work to do you know, mummy.’ (Your work being your lists, charts, maps and tables – it is never-ending.)

Nightmare scenarios: 

Practising bike-riding. Again.

Not having time to finish your ‘work’.

Special skills: 

Keeping yourself amused.

Plotting train routes.

Inventing towns.

Recalling the dates of birth of family members, the Royal Family, and 85% of Watford FC’s players.

Twin 1:

You are: 

A beautiful, affectionate, eager, sensitive, messy, cuddly whirlwind of emotions. Happy to be looked after, always ready for a cuddle.

Twin 1 climbing

You love: 

Roast potatoes, chipped potatoes, most other potatoes, climbing, dancing, superheroes, big drums, motorbikes, skateboards, funny voices, fast slides, funny faces, cake, biscuits, ice-cream in a cone.

Can often be found: 

Climbing to the top of something.

Likely to say: 

‘Mummy, when can I have a skateboard?……. And what about a surfboard?’

‘I tried peas mummy and I like them. But I am only eating ONE.’

‘Can I have some more roast potatoes, please?’

‘I am NOT tired.’

Nightmare scenarios: 

A grazed knee.

A bowl of greens.

Your very precious skateboard top being in the wash.

Being told there are no more roast potatoes.

Special skills: 

Eating all the roast potatoes.

A continually grubby face, whatever the activity.

Twin 2:

You are:  

Helpful, earnest, observant, loyal, stubborn, growing so so fast, cuddly, affectionate, independent but not keen on being alone, a snazzy dresser; sometimes shy, sometimes a performer…..And absolutely never, ever in any rush. Twin 2 fireman

You love:

Observing your surroundings, parsnips, creepy crawlies, helping with jobs, feeling like a grown up, undivided attention, holding open doors, pulling funny faces, emergency vehicles, fancy dress, dot-to-dots, custard tarts, mummy’s necklaces / watch / rings /  buttons; bow ties, smart hats, flamboyant shirts, doors, locks, hand-dryers, a sensor flush.

Can often be found: 

Still sitting at the table long after everyone else has finished.

Drifting along at the back of a group.

Holding open doors.

Testing out toilet doors / locks / flushing mechanisms and the pedals on sanitary bins.

Likely to say: 

‘But I don’t want to be LAST FOR MY MIIIIILLLLLKKKKK.’

‘Can I help you, mummy?’

‘But I can carry it all by myself!’ 

‘Mummy, do you remember that day when we went to the park and there were three tunnels and we saw a blue bin and two ladybirds and a butterfly?’ 

Nightmare scenarios: 

Being the last one to put milk on your cereal in the mornings.

Being interrupted.

Feeling like you’re not being listened to.

Special skills: 

An incredible eye for detail – you notice everything.

Happily spending an hour over your breakfast.

three boys at the seaside

Happy birthday to you, little ones, as you move into your new, more grown-up sounding ages.

Let’s see what 7 and 5 have in store.

Wobbly teeth and growing up

Things are changing, 6 year old, in so many ways.

Your face has changed – everyone says it. It has slimmed out, become more boy-like. Your skin is still lovely and downy and soft but the baby look and those chubby cheeks have gone. You look more grown up now, that’s what people say. More like a schoolboy. And people are right, you do.

And not only do you look more grown up, but you’re becoming more grown up too. You still look like a little one to me, especially when I see you with some of the older children from your class. You still hold my hand; and apparently you will never want to work to school by yourself. But bit by bit, you are becoming more independent, growing in confidence, and developing yourself away from mummy.

You don’t need me to hang around at the classroom door at school drop off time. You resist if I offer to help you with your things. Instead you struggle in, with your book bag and your homework and your water bottle and violin. You’re ok, you tell me. You still ask for a kiss before you go, but not the 5 kisses that you used to have. It’s a quick peck, it’s no longer a big bear hug. You don’t look back and you don’t need an extra wave. You just go.

When you get home you play mainly in your room. You read or make lists or draw maps. You have your own little projects you’re working on. You need minimal input from mummy or daddy.

You read to yourself at bedtime. One of us will sit with you, but the days of mummy or daddy reading you a story are long since behind us. Every night now, you ask for some extra time to read to yourself. I still come in after this to say goodnight and turn out your light, but I know this won’t last long. Soon you’ll be turning out your own light.

And as you’ve lost your baby look, so you’ve developed a real sense of identity and of where you belong. This is your life, right here. This is school and these are your friends and these are all the local landmarks that you see day in day out. This is your community, and this is where you feel comfortable. 

And now, at last, two wobbly teeth, and two big teeth coming through behind them. This is the milestone you’ve been waiting for. You’ve watched so many friends come into school bubbling over with excitement about the tooth fairy’s visit, or showing off a wobbly tooth that is hanging off by a thread. I have seen your bottom lip wobble and your eyes fill with tears as you wondered when you would have a wobbly tooth of your own. And now you have. I find it hard to imagine how the arrival of your big teeth will change your whole face. Your little teeth, well they are a part of you; they are your smile. But they’re not a part of the big you, and the big you is what is appearing now. The big you who is gaining in independence, who reads to himself and chuckles away at his books, and who strides into school without looking back.

There are so many more changes to come, I know that. More changes, more wobbly teeth, and a few more little steps away from mummy. It pulls at my heartstrings, but at the same time I know that I wouldn’t want it any other way.

6-year-old

As you turn 6 and 4

Today, Eldest Boy, is what I call your Birthday Eve. Tomorrow, you turn 6. Two days later, your brothers turn 4. August is always full-on and slightly overwhelming, but this year it is even more full-on than usual. For the first time ever, we are away for your birthdays; and we have a packed schedule. Over 6 nights we are staying in 3 places, attending 1 wedding and of course celebrating one turning 6 and two turning 4. Daddy also has Best Man duties to perform and a speech to perfect. Our car is packed to the brim as it always is when we go away; but this time there are also wedding outfits, mummy’s new shoes, birthday cards and presents.

So as we continue our little road trip; here you are, boys, as you turn 6 and 4.

Eldest boy

You are: 

Growing in confidence, gentle, your own boy, innocent, imaginative, inquisitive, brave, impatient, a bookworm, on a mission to protect the world’s endangered species.

You love: 

Books, maps, animals of the world, structure, school, nature, lists, problems to solve, answers to questions, a hearty meal, dates, times, football scores, custard, flags, days at home surrounded by your books.

You can often be found: 

Sitting on your bedroom floor with a selection of atlases, drawing maps, compiling lists, reading, writing out imaginary football scores, swotting up on animals and their habitats.

Likely to say: 

‘I really love learning the Cyrillic alphabet, mummy. In fact, I wish we were Cyrillic. Or Russian, I mean.’

‘I would love to be a brown rat because brown rats eat anything they find.’

Special skill: 

Retaining and recalling information – the diet of an Arctic fox, the preferred habitat of a ring-tailed lemur. You read it and somehow it stays there.

Nightmare scenario: 

Being hurried when engrossed in a book.

Eldest boy note

Twin 1

You are: 

Joyful, sensitive, headstrong, eager, jaunty, impatient, adventurous, sociable, shy, cuddly, a whirlwind, the first to wake up every morning.

You love: 

Running, climbing, performing, leaping, racing, wrestling, scooting, making friends, being praised, cake, ice-cream in a cone, one more sweetie.

Can often be found: 

Forcing your way to the front door determined to open it first.

Likely to say: 

‘Stop saying those RUDE things, mummy’

(Anything you don’t want to hear is, apparently, a ‘rude thing’.)

Special skill: 

Winning people over with your big brown eyes. And they are big.

Nightmare scenarios: 

Ambiguous answers. Unfortunately, the answer is sometimes ‘maybe’, and you don’t like that at all.

Your scooter blowing away, a bag being put on the ground, your brother running on ahead of you. You have quite a few nightmare scenarios at the moment my lovely, you are going through a bit of an anxious phase.

Twin 1

Twin 2

You are:  

Observant, defiant, unsure, shy, master of voices, growing so fast that I can’t buy new clothes quickly enough, sometimes earnest, sometimes jokey, often moody; never in any rush.

You love:

Creepy crawlies, flamboyant accessories, funny faces, taking your time over meals, crackers, silly voices, ice lollies, fancy dress, finding feathers, playing make-believe.

Can often be found: 

At the table, still finishing a meal.

Watching snails. Or ants.

Playing mummies and daddies and babies.

Likely to say: 

‘I can see a dead woodlouse.’

‘You know mummy, yesterday a few weeks ago I found a smelly sock on the way home from school…… And a glove.’

‘I need a cuddle.’

Special skill: 

The ability to spot ants, snails, slugs, feathers and abandoned socks and gloves from a great distance.

Nightmare scenario: 

A stepped-on snail.

No more snacks.

Twin 2 fancy dress2

New adventures

As you turn 6 and 4, the year to come is a big one for us all – this time next month I will have three little schoolboys.

Yes, you are still hard work. The days are still relentless, getting us all out of the house saps me of all of my energy, and the thought of a glass of wine carries me through bathtime and bedtime. But boys, you are magnificent and along with the chaos you bring us bucket loads of laughter and fun. Long may that continue.

Happy birthday xxx