Letter to my firstborn as he turns 10

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My Christmas baby, how have you been with us for a decade?! Double figures feels SO GROWN UP! I don’t feel ready for such a milestone birthday yet but I guess time marches on and we don’t get a say in it! It’s been an enormous privilege to have you in our lives this past decade. Being 9 was your second year of living through an ongoing global pandemic during your short life. I do mourn the loss of a normal childhood and experiences for you but I guess this is normal to you now. We’ve made the most of it and you’ve still had a great year. This post is your 10 year old birthday letter…

10 year old birthday letter


After your 9th birthday last year, schools were closed again and you didn’t go back to school until March 8th. Part of you liked the slower pace of homeschooling though so it didn’t affect you as much as it did your extroverted sister. However, since the return to school, there have been a fair few times off again due to covid symptoms or your bubble bursting so you’ve never quite known what to expect.

It impresses me how much you take it all in your stride, much more than I do I’m sure! Just this week your visit to the panto has been cancelled because so many kids in your year are off with covid. Frankly, I’m just praying we get through your birthday and Christmas without you or Lena bringing it home from school as it seems inevitable with Omicron right now. Yesterday you told me there are 14 children in your year off with covid. (Not that we’d know because on Department for Education advice the schools don’t inform us anymore but we’ll leave my anger at the Government’s abysmal school covid safety policy for another day!).

One thing I’d like you to not be so good at with regards to school is catching headlice, you’ve had more than your fair share of those this year!

We did have a parent consultation for you recently though and they told us you were on track with everything and where you were meant to be which just goes to show how far you’ve come since I wrote When your kid isn’t excelling at school. They said you are brilliant at maths and are a pleasure to teach. The only areas where they said that you need to improve are your handwriting (which has improved a lot) and speaking up more as your teacher said you have great ideas but are sometimes reluctant to share them. When you started school though they struggled to get you to speak at all and now you are a million times more confident so I’m not worried about that at all. You have strong opinions and when I’m around you I see you share them confidently.

Ready to go back to school, September 2021

What you are like at 10

This year it really feels like you are in the transition from little kid to big kid. We are definitely in the tween stage now. Lately, you’ve definitely been going through some hormonal mood swings – you aren’t as permanently happy as you once were. Sometimes you tell me you feel sad or angry but you don’t know why. You are still our little cuddle monkey though maybe slightly less than previously, you definitely appreciate your own space more these days. You now spend time in your room alone watching TV and if we come in to see you you always say ‘close the door’ as we leave!

You still hold my hand on the school runs (actually we joke about how you can’t not hold my hand because if I ever take my hand away you are like a magnet and back in seconds, we timed it recently and you couldn’t make it to a minute without holding my hand) but I don’t think it will be too much longer until that seems embarrassing for you.

You are sensitive and quick to tears, you have huge amounts of empathy for others, you are mature for your age and politically minded, you understand grown-up concepts and sometimes it’s easy to forget that you are a child still. You are genuinely enjoyable to spend time with. My life is immeasurably better for having you in it. I think you will agree that your worst trait is how much you deliberately wind your little sister up.

What’s on your wish list

Buying for your birthday this year has been a huge challenge. You aren’t really into toys at all anymore. You are really into football and gaming and that’s about it! You have asked to go to a Newcastle match as a way of celebrating your birthday so you have tickets to the next Newcastle match and are so excited about that.

At the match with Daddy

We still haven’t figured out our plans for the actual day yet – trying to get answers out of you is like trying to get blood out of a stone. You haven’t inherited a great amount from me but you for sure have inherited my indecisiveness! I know the day will involve ordering a takeaway, playing computer games, relatives visiting and lots of cake though!

Your favourite things at 10

Your favourite things to do are watching football with your dad, playing Minecraft and Roblox with your dad and Lena, watching YouTube, playing Fifa on the PlayStation and Football Manager on the laptop. We still watch Bake Off together each Autumn and read Christmas books (see Best children’s Christmas books) together every night each November/December (this year we are reading the Christmasaurus and the Naughty List and the Christmas Pig and Lena has joined in this year bringing much more chaos to the proceedings).

Your favourite foods are now pepperoni pizza, sausages (staying consistent there for every year I’ve done these posts), sushi and smoked salmon. For your birthday you have asked for an English fry up (with sausages, obvs), Cheese toasties and sushi for tea. You are over spaghetti bolognese now sadly. You are quite adventurous with food now and will at least try most things which I’m loving.

You LOVE pepperoni pizza

When you need to eat you get so hangry it’s like a complete hulk personality change. You refuse to admit that you are actually hungry and we have to feed you before we can even entertain having any kind of rational or reasonable conversation with you. As soon as you’ve eaten you are back to being our sweet boy again.

You definitely have bigger portions than me now and the result is you are growing like a weed. Whilst you are one of the smallest in your class, you are up to my shoulders now and I imagine it won’t be long until you outgrow me.

What we did this year

Covid restrictions loosened this year so whilst we didn’t get to go on holiday abroad we did get to go on some UK breaks.

We rented a gorgeous house in Scotland for your Granma’s 60th birthday in August (see Our holiday to Angus, Scotland) and you enjoyed playing in the pool and hot tub all week with your cousins.

A large family photograph outside the blue front door of Slade House, Angus, Scotland

We had a couple of camping trips to Northumberland – the Boe Rigg in Bellingham Northumberland in June and Beadnell Bay in Northumberland in August.

In October we had a nice little overnight stay at Seaburn (see my The Seaburn Inn review – a family mini-break in Seaburn, Sunderland.

A boy points stands in front on the sea and points at a light house in the distance

Then in November we were back to Northumberland again for Kielder Winter Wonderland with a weekend lodge stay.

Enjoying the hot tub at Landal Kielder Waterside, November 2021

In February it was Lena’s birthday and she asked for a pet. You really didn’t want us to get her one and we compromised on guinea pigs though tears were shed, you were afraid and didn’t want them in the house. However, you’ve been really brave with them and now love them as much as Lena. They even sleep in your room under your loft bed. Daddy is hoping the same thing will happen with a dog as Lena and Daddy still desperately want a dog but you are still terrified of them.

This year you got to experience the Euros with all their joy and all its disappointment when we got knocked out so close to the end. It was a formative experience for you though I’m sure. You loved getting to stay up late to watch the matches and getting swept up in all the exuberance of it. We even put bets on via Daddy!

Off to school on a Euros match day

Acheivements as a 9 year old

Your biggest achievement this year by far has been finishing your Vision Therapy for your intermittent divergent squint. You started vision therapy in January 2018 and we have worked so hard at it pretty much daily ever since. It’s been such a hard slog but I’m so proud of you for trying so hard over the years. I’m sure it’s going to have benefitted you in so many ways. You do still have your intermittent divergent squint and we’ll have to do some vision therapy exercises every now and then to remind your eyes how to focus properly but we were all so relieved to not have to go to the physical appointments anymore.

At Vision Therapy

Swimming lessons also started back up this year and you’ve been working really hard at improving. You can’t swim independently yet but you are making progress and gaining confidence (which has been your main issue).

Finally, this year you also mastered tying your shoelaces on your own!

10 year old birthday letter – that’s it

I’m incredibly grateful that not only do I get to have you as my son and be your mam but that we’ve successfully ‘completed’ our first decade together. You are my first child, we’ve both been bumbling along and learning as we go together. But you know what, I look at you and I think we’ve both done a pretty great job because you are as perfect as a boy can be. Our relationship is close and strong. I’m proud that we have mutual respect for one another.

I can feel in my bones that the next year will bring a lot of changes in who you are and how you present yourself to the world but I can’t wait to continue to hold your hand through it, for as long as you continue to let me.

Love ya infinitely Buddy,


Previous birthday letters to Arlo:

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