Happy 8th Birthday L: An open letter
To my darling L,
You are 8 years old today, and to mark your big day here is this year’s special letter (last year’s letter is here). I cannot for the life of me understand how on earth you can possibly be 8 years old. Surely it was just yesterday that we held you, our first baby, in our arms, this tiny bundle of 2.7kg of joy.
As you get older you are developing your own, very strong, character, and whilst you drive me crazy sometimes I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am so incredibly proud of you and the person you are becoming.
However with each birthday I get a little bit sadder. The last 8 years have whizzed by in the blink of an eye, and if the next 8 years go by as quickly you’ll be an adult more or less and be starting to think about flying the nest. And I just want to slow those years down.
To celebrate your 8th birthday I thought I would share 8 things about you here along with 8 years of photos of you, my big baby, my first baby.
You are such an athletic girl. People are constantly asking me what sporting activities you do and are surprised when I say that you don’t do anything consistently. In fact it changes every term, depending on what the school has to offer (last term Tai Kwon do, this term Street Dance). Although you do spend hours climbing and doing gymnastics at home. I look at your muscly form, your suppleness and I hope you won’t let it all go to pot. It is amazing to see how fearlessly you climb any tree (or banister!), and how easily you sink down into the splits or into a one-handed handstand. Keep being sporty as it’s truly incredible to watch. Although it would be nice sometimes for you not to give your 2 year old sister ideas, and for you to come for your tea the first few times you are called instead of climbing/doing gymnastics!
You suffer from self-doubt. There are numerous times when you come home from school and tell me “Mummy I’m rubbish at everything”. This really breaks my heart, when I read the stories you write, when I see the books you devour, when I hear you flip from French to English and back again, I want you to understand that you are not rubbish at everything. Far from it. I wish you would realise that it is not every 7 or 8 year old that can do what you do.
You are very over-confident. On the other hand, you sometimes come across like an X-Factor contestant with your cockiness. You really enjoy ballet dancing at home, so when I asked you if you wanted to take classes again (do you remember you took them for 2 terms when you were 4?) you informed me that you don’t need to as you know it all already, and are going to be a future Nutcracker lead dancer! Such modesty.
You have such a big heart. You never like to see someone sad. Whenever you see a homeless person (fairly often, we do live in London after all) you always ask for money to give them, and want to talk about how awful it must be for them. When we talk about the Haitian girl we sponsor through Action Aid (find out more about sponsoring a child here) you are always so upset about how hard life is for her, and are desperate to share your toys with her.
You recently signed up to be a play leader at school, where you go into the KS1 playground once a week, to make sure that all the children have someone to play with, as you always want to make sure that everyone is happy. Last but not least, you spend so much of your free-time playing with the children I childmind, despite there being a fairly big age gap, and despite having to share your home and your toys with them. Thank you for all of that.
You are the most amazing big sister. You always asked for a younger sister (never a brother), but we had no idea how it would actually turn out once you were presented with an actual baby sister, just before you turned 6. I shouldn’t have worried. You were incredible. You wanted to help from the get-go. You wanted C to sleep in your bedroom from day one (which she did). We waited with baited breath for you to get bored. To get fed up of the baby who did nothing. But you never did. Then we waited for you to get jealous when she started crawling and touching your things. But you didn’t. Very occasionally you get cross with C for being a pain – she is in the terrible twos stage after all – but 99% of the time you are just the most amazing big sister, the best one that a younger sister could hope for. And C rewards you for it by hugging you, kissing you, asking for you and loving you back just as much.
You are so much fun to be with. Whilst you are beginning to get stroppier as pre-teens set in (age 8?!?), you are still such fantastic company. Neither a Daddy’s girl nor a Mummy’s girl, you are just as happy climbing trees and watching Star Wars with Daddy, as you are chatting to, and watching Mamma Mia with, Mummy. You have a great sense of humour and we can tease you and be silly with you, meaning we laugh lots together as a family.
You are the world’s biggest book worm. You are a big TV addict, and would watch the box 24/7 if we let you, but you are also so into your books. I have lost track of the number of times that I’ve gone up to bed around 11pm to find you engrossed in a book, having been put to bed 3 hours previously. Seeing as Daddy and I LOVE our books so much too this makes us very happy, even when we are not best impressed at your going to sleep late. I love that you get lost in a book – in the same way that I used to as a child, and still do. I love that we can take you on public transport, on a flight or in a car, and as long as you have a book you will entertain yourself for hours.
You will always be my baby. You might be 8 years old now, but in my heart, in my mind, in my memories you will always be my baby. I remember so clearly finding out I was pregnant with you, carrying you for 9 months, giving birth to you, breastfeeding you, consoling you when you cried, cuddling you, kissing you, and being there for you, in a way that I had never done with anyone else ever before, and have only done with you and your sister since. Stay as cuddly and kissy as you are now, never grow out of your mum’s hugs and kisses as I will never want to stop giving them to you. (I love that you are still so light that I can carry you as easily now as when you were 3 or 4 years old!).
My wonderful, feisty, funny L, always remember that you are unique, that you are so loved, by me, Daddy and Clémence, but also by your extended family and by your many, many friends. Have an incredibly fantastic 8th birthday, and do me just one favour, don’t go growing up too quickly, I’m not ready to say goodbye to you yet.
All my love today and every day,