For Alice on Your 5th Birthday

Last But Not Least

Dear Alice on Saturday you will FINALLY be 5!

It feels like it’s taken an absolute age for you to get to this point. We’ve seen so many of your friends reach this milestone, often as some of them are now about to turn 6,  and it felt like you’d never get here. You are the last but by no means the least to turn 5 out of your school friends, the last in your class (and indeed your year at school), the last of your NCT friends and the last of your old playgroup friends.

And I whilst I know that there has got to be some sort of cut off; that someone has got to be the youngest in the class, at times I have noticed just how big a gap being a late summer born child can be.

Big School

What a year it’s been. Other than perhaps your very first year when babies change practically daily, I don’t think I’ve ever noticed a year where you’ve changed so much.

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First day of school just 2 weeks after turning 4

Just 2 weeks after your 4th birthday – almost a year ago, you started at “Big School.” It was a bumpy ride. We’d had a lot of family and emotional upset over that summer and looking back I can see that you had really picked up on the tension in the house. When the novelty of school wore off after a couple of weeks, there were serious issues; you were absolutely exhausted and emotionally stressed. I look back to last October and November with absolute horror. You were waking up every night screaming. You had to be physically carried out to the car every morning crying and fighting trying to remove your school uniform. You would come out of school every afternoon kicking me and your sister. On a daily basis we were pretty much all in tears.

I frequently talked to the teachers and SENCO support at the school for advice, begging and pleading for help, to be told in astonishment that you were an angel at school. They couldn’t believe the problems I was telling them. It seemed you were taking all your frustration and anger out on us at home.

I remember the school nativity last December where you nervously stood at the back of the stage and had to be comforted by a teacher half way through because you became upset and my heart ached for you. I seemed to spend so much of my time worrying about you!

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Looking nervous at the Christmas nativity

You’ve always had a cautious personality. You become upset about any change in routine and whenever you’ve had to start something new. Starting nursery, pre-school, even swimming lessons, has always been a big deal for you and I’ve often wondered if this is just part of who you are or if it’s something to do with being the eldest child because unlike your sister, there is no one to pave the way for you.

Christmas and Summer

Things changed after Christmas. I was dreading the “Back to School” week in January but you’d completely turned a corner and seemed to suddenly enjoy school. I still couldn’t get much information out of you about what you were getting up to, but you were happier. You weren’t waking up in the night, you seemed to have completely settled down. You enjoyed writing and reading and even maths!

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Last day of Reception class

In June I came to see you in a summer dance show at school and could not believe the complete difference from the nativity just 6 months before. You were dressed up in a superhero costume at the front of the class, dancing  to your (now favourite) One Direction song whilst singing loudly along. I couldn’t have been more shocked or surprised.

It was about this time that we noticed your growing interest in music. Your teacher had an influence on your love for One Direction (specifically Drag Me Down and History) and Justin Bieber (especially Sorry), but we’ve watched in amusement as you’ve enjoyed singing and dancing along to Uptown Funk, Happy by Pharrell Williams and Ready for The Good Life by Paloma Faith.

Just like this birthday, you were born on a Saturday when the local V Festival weekend was happening and your birthday is now forever linked to this. So when I made the mistake of mentioning that Justin Bieber was headlining this year, it seemed hilarious that you were most insistent about going.

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Superhero at the summer dance show

Your love of colouring and arts and crafts has grown this year, you can spend hours carefully perfecting your pictures and get really frustrated if you make a mistake or “ruin” a drawing, often demanding to start all over again. You’ve also learnt to ride a bike without stabilisers and seem to enjoy this!

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A colouring masterpiece!

Your relationship with your sister Eva has changed too. As the eldest you have taken to winding her up more and there have been a lot of arguments. But I love the fact that you’re still incredibly protective over her and whenever we go somewhere new, you will look out for her and make sure that she is OK.

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Protective big sister

Your summer school report just made me want to weep, because despite all the emotional problems from almost a year ago and despite being the youngest, it seems to have had no impact on your ability. We’re all so proud of how you’re doing, but more than this, I couldn’t be more grateful for how hugely improved your confidence has grown.

So happy birthday my sweet, sensitive, cautious Alice. I hope you enjoy it for as long as you can before all your friends rapidly start turning 6. I’ve loved seeing your personality develop and how your confidence has grown so much this past year and only hope that this continues now that you’re finally 5! xx