Happy 9th Birthday L: An open letter
To my darling L,
You are 9 years old today, so I want to try and put some feelings and thoughts into words. You are old enough to read and understand this now (far more than on your 7th birthday or on your 8th birthday), but I think it is something that will make sense to you more as you get older.
Wow! What a huge year this has been for all of us, but in particular for you. This time last year you celebrated your birthday at our home in London, with your friends from the local school, most of whom you’d known since you were 4 years old.
Then a few months into your 9th year we dropped a bombshell that turned your life on its head. We were sitting round the table and we announced to you that we were moving to Mauritius, a place you’d never heard of before. You took it all in your stride – especially when we showed you photos and videos of this beautiful island.
Even when we told you we would need to rehome our beloved dog and 3 cats (who you adore) you stayed strong. We’ve had ups and downs since then – times when you’ve found the whole move and changes a bit too much, but I’m so proud of the way you’ve coped with everything.
This year has seen you say goodbye to our pets, including the dog that you love and that you’ve grown up with. It has seen you say goodbye to the only friends you remember knowing, people you have grown up alongside and seen day in, day out since you were 3 years old. It has seen you choose which of your books, clothes, toys and belongings to keep (you were only allowed to keep a suitcase-size of your things – clothes included), and you, very bravely, piled up those items to be given to charity or sold.
You waved goodbye to the only road you remember living in, the only school you remember, to move in with your Grandma and Grandpa for a few months. You finished one school on a Friday and started a new one on the Monday afterwards. Without knowing anyone. Knowing that it was only temporary.
Despite the school and the pupils being very different to everything you knew and were used to, you did well for a while, before it got to be a bit too much.
And now. Now you are in Mauritius. In your new home. In your new bedroom. And you’re still having to wait to make friends. We arrived here at the end of October and school doesn’t start until mid-January for you. But you don’t complain (much). You play with your sister. You spend half of your time swimming along the bottom of the pool. You read voraciously. You definitely take after your mum there. And you’re open to all new activities and sports (that’s more your Dad). So far you’ve tried out surfing, horse-riding and crafting and each time you give it your all.
You don’t complain about the heat – even though it is hot for you, as you don’t remember the heat of Nice when we lived there. You don’t complain too much about the mosquitoes, even though they are making a good attempt to eat you alive. You didn’t complain about the initial lack of TV, and you don’t complain that the TV now is only in French and the screen is just a bit bigger than an iPad, while we wait to get settled and sorted.
I am so incredibly proud of you. You just get on with things. Like your first horse-riding lesson that was all in French. My heart was in my mouth as I heard the teacher asking you to point to the parts of the horse in French. Whilst you are pretty much bilingual, your horse vocabulary in French is possibly a bit lacking. But you just took it in your stride. It didn’t bother you. You didn’t get upset.
You are such an incredible girl. You are so brave and so willing to try things. I love the life that we can give you here as I see you get into the sporting activities that Mauritius can offer you. It was great to see the pride you took in beating “the strongest girl in the area” in an arm wrestle. You might look dinky and small and cute, but you’re one mighty strong girl, and I know a lot of people who would kill to have the muscly, athletic, flexible body that you have.
I could not be prouder of you than I am right now. You amaze me and you amaze a lot of people when they meet you. Keep being the incredible, amazing, wonderful person that you are.
And enjoy yourself. Enjoy your birthday. Enjoy your life here in Mauritius – you are living a life that many dream of but that few achieve.
9 years ago today you came into our lives amidst great excitement, but Papa and I had absolutely no idea just how much you would change us and our lives. For the better.
We love you more than words can say and more than you can imagine.
Happy birthday my big girl, my first baby.