A letter for four (for Teddy)

Dear Teddy,

On the evening of your birthday, while the sun printed itself onto the carpet and your aunties pored over your new Lego sets, you buzzed around in the kitchen, high on cake. Then something occurred to you, and you popped your head back in the door to say, gratified, astonished: ‘People just KEEP ON buying me presents!’

It seemed very like you. You can’t do anything without singing under your breath, and you can’t stop yourself springing into rooms with a mouth-trumpet fanfare (whether your sister’s asleep or no), and you couldn’t believe that you’d be so lucky on your birthday as to get some actual, real-life presents. Last week you looked in open-mouthed wonder at the camping spork I’d given you to eat with. ‘That is ung-CREDIBLE’, you said, in a hushed voice. Oh, Ted. Imagine what you’ll think the first time you see a Swiss army knife.

Here you are at four: suddenly long-legged and perpetually covered in bruises, you fall out of bed at least once a night and dance all day in my orbit, telling me you’re hungry. ‘I’m STILL hungry’, you insist at 9am, at 9.12, and approximately every twenty minutes thereafter. You’ll try any food once, but pasta and pesto is still your favourite meal. You like to help me cook dinner, and often do – partly because you can’t bear to stay in the room if there’s even the mildest tension on the TV.

You love music, too, and often open the piano to plonk on the keys. ‘Listen, I’m playing some thinking music’, you told me the other day. It sounded like all of your other abstract compositions, but what do I know? Last week you refused to get out of the car until we’d listened to the very end of Elton John’s Sacrifice (I think I preferred your Starman phase). You’ve recently dispensed with your cheesy photo grin for a serious stand-to-attention pose. The look on your face – proud and dutiful and fierce – always makes me want to cry a little. I never know why.

Other things you love: Transformers Rescue Bots, riding your scooter to nursery, Lego, laboriously spelling out the speech bubbles in Calvin and Hobbes cartoons, Moana, your brother and sister. You have a small and enthusiastic group of friends, of which you seem to be the ringleader. On our way home from nursery you call out cheery goodbyes to anyone you can see. When the girls respond, you blush. I think you might be…cool? It’s all very strange to us. You start school in September and you’d go tomorrow, if you could. You’ve been desperate to go since Henry started, which is how it is with most things.

You are so loud. Your tantrums could knock over a horse, diminishing in frequency though they are.

In your two-year-old letter I said you felt like a piece of grace to me. I suppose what I’m saying is, you still do.

Happy fourth, little bear.

With love,

Your mother.

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