Happy birthday to my lovely son. You’re another year older and the teenage years are growing ever closer. You were born exactly four weeks after my 30th birthday, so the normal state of affairs is now resumed – our ages look similar again. We were 10 and 40, 11 and 41, now we’re 12 and 42.
It’s been quite a year for you, with some big changes. I’ve seen a more vulnerable side to you at times, but you’ve come out on top. I am every bit of proud of you today as I was a year ago and the year before that. Every bit as proud of you as I’ve always been.
When you were little you, more than the others, were ‘my’ boy. You were a proper mummy’s boy. You only ever wanted me – when you were sad, when you were hurt, it was Mummy you called for. That all changed around the age of 7, when you started playing football and Daddy (Dad to you now, of course) became the coach. You rejected affection from a young age – you were already refusing to hold my hand or let me kiss you goodbye in year 1. You would let me give you one small hug in the morning and one at bedtime, but that was all. Nobody else was allowed a hug – not your Dad, not your grandparents, your auntie and uncle or your siblings.
But that changed this year. You realised you needed me. It started at Christmas. You had a virus – not a terrible one, your temperature never got so high it scared me. But it lingered for about 10 days. You didn’t feel yourself and you couldn’t shake it off. You needed me and you wanted me to hug you. After that, you let me hug you more from day to day.
The summer was emotional for you. Leaving primary school hit you a lot harder than I thought it would. Starting secondary school was brilliant, but at times overwhelming and confusing. You didn’t just let me hug you, you came to me for hugs. Even when other people were around – something you would never have done before.
I love that you’ve come back to me and I hope it stays that way.
This year, you’ve gone from strength to strength in football – winning the coach’s player of year last season and scoring seven goals in your first two games of this season. You took the difficult, but ultimately right, decision to give up rugby on a Sunday morning.
You passed your SATs with flying colours and had the best time on your school residential.
Then you went away with Scouts for 12 days. I had dreaded it for a year. I had no idea how I would cope without you and your brother. But you had the time of your life. I’ve never heard you talk so much as you talked the day after you came home from Holland. You told me every possible detail, you loved it so much. It was so much better than the school residential (which had been the best thing ever). You carried on talking about it for a month, right until you started your new school. It was hard for me, but I know that letting you go was absolutely the right decision and I would do it again without a second thought.
And then came the new school. The thing we’ve been waiting for all year. You started without any nerves and you loved it. You soon got used to the way of life and made new friends. I was pleased you were texting one of the boys within a week and you’d been invited to his house within two weeks (unfortunately the nature of your school meant Dad spent most of the day driving you there and back!). The organisation of PE kits, books and music got a bit overwhelming at times, so your Dad stepped in to help. He’s so proud of you being at that school. He’s taken more interest in packing your bag over the last few weeks than he’s taken in 10 years about any aspect of school for you, your brother or your sister!
Over the next year, you will continue to grow and thrive as you find your feet more and more at school. You will play for the rugby team and take part in productions and concerts. The last year has been a brilliant one for you and I’ve no doubt the next year will be just as good.
Happy birthday, my 12 year old boy. I love you and I’m proud of you.