To my little cuddle monkey – Buddy,
Oh wow. 8 already. You really seem like a big kid now. Just this last few months you seem to have had a growth spurt and now none of your clothes fit you anymore.
You remain the sweetest kid I’ve ever known, with a heart way too pure for this cruel world. You are full to the brim with kindness and empathy. It seeps out of your every pore. You love nothing more than cuddling and tell me numerous times a day that you love me and that I’m a great mammy.
Lena is so lucky to have you as a big brother as you are so patient and loving with her, even when often, she hasn’t earned it. She can be quite challenging to be an older sibling to (she’s easily annoyed and screams and hits you too frequently) and nine times out of ten you respond with calm empathy with way more maturity than your years dictate.
Saying all this, god forbid you ever get hungry because it’s like you’ve had an entire personality transplant. You ‘hulk out’ and get very hangry. Then as soon as you have eaten, you are our sweet, chilled out little boy again. We laugh about it together when you are fed but I wouldn’t dare mention it when you are hungry!
Your favourite things at the moment are football (specifically Newcastle United), playing games (Roblox, Minecraft) on your iPad, watching YouTube videos and playing on your Nintendo Switch.
You don’t really play with toys anymore which makes me a little sad, though Lena sometimes forces you to play with her toys with her and I love to see you playing nicely together (when you aren’t fighting). You still enjoy drawing and colouring but mostly seem to be into football and computer games, just like your dad.
Big news on the food update this year. You can finally tolerate (allergy wise) and enjoy eating pizza, as long as it’s pepperoni! In my last letter to you, I wrote about you not liking pizza but now you do, hurrah. As a family of pizza lovers, this is a huge deal. It’s everyone else in the family’s favourite food and now you have finally joined the club. Sausages remain your top food though. You still love smoked salmon and raw mushrooms. You’ve decided you don’t care that much about spag bol anymore. You are still allergic to dairy but can tolerate baked dairy. We are starting to think you might not grow out of it fully. It makes you sad sometimes but on a whole, you handle it like a trooper.
7 was a big year for you. In February, after bed-sharing with us since you were a baby, you finally felt ready to make the move from sleeping with daddy to having your own bed. We chose the IKEA KURA loft bed with a tent canopy over the top and you have Pokémon bedding and you love it. The first week was fine then a couple of weeks later you started waking and coming to me but we quickly resolved that and now you are an absolute champ. You always turn your lights out at the time we tell you to. If you struggle to go to sleep you read. If you wake up before 6.30am and can’t get back to sleep you are allowed to read and after 6.30am you are allowed to put your TV on quietly. After so many nights of broken sleep and 4am starts with you, it finally feels like it has all paid off. I love that you did it on your own terms, when you felt ready and there were no tears.
You lost your first tooth this year! You’ve now lost your 4 front teeth and they are all growing back through now. You do have some hypermineralisation on these big teeth that you never had on your baby teeth so we will have to keep a close eye on that. Your big teeth are growing in a bit wonky too so we’ll have to see how that goes. I’m hoping you don’t need braces but we’ll see.
You continue to require vision therapy. It’s been 2 years in January and we would all like to see the back of it if we are honest. It’s a time consuming and an expensive chore that none of us like doing but your eyes are very important and it’s an investment that we feel we can’t afford not to make. We are so grateful that you try so hard with it and hope one day this is going to pay off for you in a big way.
You’ve had a few holidays including our trip to Gran Canaria at Easter, our camping trip to Y Not Festival in July, 48 hours at the Northumberland Coast in July where we saw puffins and seals, our camping trip to Just So Festival in August and a long weekend to the Peak District in November. You love going on holiday and usually cry when we have to leave. I’m hoping we will get abroad again at Easter – we try to keep flying to once a year to be mindful of our impact on the environment.
School is going well. You passed your year 2 SATs at the expected level for your age which is a huge achievement from where you’ve come from. You’ve had a good first term in year 3 and have been enjoying doing an after school football club once a week. It means Lena and I have to wait for you for 75 minutes but I’d pretty much do anything to make you happy.
You’ve also got into politics and I swear you now know more than a lot of the adults in your life. I’m thrilled to see your interest in the world around you and I harbour a hope that you will make a positive impact in the world in your adult life. As you have begun to as a child.
You started swimming lessons in September and I’m so proud of how hard you are trying and how brave you are being even though you find it a challenge. You have now done one term and have just passed level one. You will start level two in January. I can’t wait for you to learn and I’m going to take you on holiday and we’ll have the best time swimming together in the pool!
You’ve started to enjoy cooking with me and made miso salmon with cauliflower rice with me recently. I look forward to teaching you how to cook with me over the next months and years. I want you to be the kind of man who (however he identifies or ends up in a relationship with) doesn’t have an imbalance in your relationships in terms of household chores. I want you to be able to cook a damn good meal and cook at least 50% of the time. I will not accept you pretending to be inept to get out of doing menial household labour like so many men do. That nonsense stops here!
Now you can read properly you have started reading chapter books for fun. As someone who gets a lot of joy from reading, I’m thrilled to see you start to do the same. You have now read two chapter books all by yourself – the Bolds and Billy and the Minpins. We are also reading the Christmasarus and the Winter Witch together each evening. I love that special 15 minutes each evening, just you and I where we read to one another.
You are one of my absolute favourite people in this world to hang out with. We make each other giggle and it always feels special with you. I know we make each other feel loved each and every day. I’m truly blessed to get to be your mam. You are the heart and soul of our family and I’ll never take for granted how lucky we all are that we get to have you in our life every day. Here’s to 8 Buddy, let’s have even more laughs and lots of cuddles this year.
Happy birthday cuddle monkey.
Love you infinitely.
Previous birthday letters to Arlo: