Dear Jack, on your fourth birthday...
Our boy, our gorgeous little boy you have managed to turn 4 before our very eyes. It is terrifying how quickly your life is going past and how much you are growing and changing. You are, without doubt, your own person now - you have most definite likes and dislikes and you make sure they are heard. You love all things Thomas and we're certain that at least once a day in the past twelve months you've uttered the phrase "Let's pretend to be Thomas The Tank Engine, coming to town". You love banana, museli & weekbix for breakfast. You love peanut butter toast for lunch. You love vanilla milkshakes when you can scam them while we're out at the shops. You love your sandpit. You love reading books at rest time. You love your marble run!!! You don't like medicine. You don't like being unable to get to sleep. You don't like bullies or people that yell. You don't like big noises and crowds. You love pyjama days. So do we.
You have ridden the roller coaster that has been the past twelve months and not blinked an eye, for which we are utterly grateful. Two really big things happened for you this year - Sam was born and you became a Big Brother, and you jettisoned off to kindy on your own for two afternoons a week. Allowing you out of our control and off to kindy was a really difficult decision for us to make. You are special, there is no doubt about it - you shine at so much and you are so interested to learn more. (Which probably makes you no more special than an ordinary pre-schooler, but we are biased.) To have kept you at home and not allowed you to grow as you have done would have been unfair. You have loved kindy - particularly your teachers and the Roman Arch activity! We were so proud when we learnt that you had continued to do the same activity again and again and again, day after day, until you perfected it. The other day I off-handedly told you I was giving up on something - "I give up" and you replied, "No Mama, you can't give up". We don't remember saying that to you but we're so glad it's clearly something you've learnt and adopted into your life - it's a priceless quality and we hope you keep it forever.
Kindy has helped to identify how intelligent you are (and we know we're biased, but even your teachers agree!). At 3 years and 10 months you were assessed as having the reading age of a child in Grade 3. Thankfully Granny has taken you to the library every week to help feed this interest and we're certain that in itself has reinforced your love of books. Your vocabulary continues to grow rapidly and you are very clear and concise (usually!), though there is a definite Mackay accent coming through sometimes! You've certainly come a long way from when we thought you were swearing a few years ago when in fact you were trying to say "The Fat Controller"! Particularly of late your two favourite phrases have been "Do You Know What" and "You've never seen anything like it". Both of these statements are usually followed by a Thomas trivia fact.
Before kindy your social skills weren't so great - in large groups you were shy and happy to stand at the sidelines watching. Kindy has really helped to bring out your personality and boost your confidence - we've certainly noticed a difference in how you play and in your reaction to different social situations now. We're grateful that you feel more at ease with other children now but are also glad that you still stand back and assess the situation before you venture in. You will, most likely, always be a quiet and sensitive little boy but you have certainly learnt to stand up for yourself and be counted! You're about to embark on big kindy days - 3 days a week from 9 to 2:30pm. We know it's an essential transition before prep next year and that it will provide even more opportunities for you to grow and learn. We just hope you remember to eat your morning tea and lunch!!!
Before Sam was born we were partly sad because it was the end of the three of us. We were worried about how you would share the attention, given you'd had it to yourself for so long. We were concerned that you would suffer from less one-on-one time and would begrudge the time we spent with Sam. We are delighted, so very delighted, with how completely wrong we were. Like everything you do, you have taken to the role of big brother like you were born to it (which, being the first born, I guess you were!). We never thought how much you would actually enjoy having a sibling and the extra dimension it would bring to your life in a good way. You adore Sam and are just besotted with him even 9 months on, which goes some way of showing that your infatuation isn't just a flash in the pan kind of thing. Every morning when you wake up, you wait to hear him talking and then you rush in there to see your "Sabby Mabby". You help to look after him, you are concerned about his welfare and, beautifully, you have celebrated with us every one of his milestones and have been just as excited about them as we have been. We're so grateful to you for being such a wonderful big brother - for setting such a great example to him and to us. He's very lucky to have you and we know that you will look out for him for the rest of your days.
It has been an amazing year and we're so proud of how you took everything in your stride. Each year when we reflect on the past twelve months and read through these letters we are struck by just how fantastic you are and how much we hope we can make you understand our love for you. You're a blessing, even when you're grumpy and in time out (which isn't very often). There is a quote written by a very talented friend of ours, Kylie Johnson, which reads "In my hand I had a kingdom, in my hand I had yours". It sums up perfectly how we feel about you & Sam and the endless posibilities you have in front of you. Thank you for being exceptional little you. May your fifth year in this world be your best year yet.