I write this every year, but where have the last twelve months gone? How can it be my son’s birthday again? Now you are eleven and most certainly not my little boy any more. Your feet are now bigger than mine and you’re catching me up heightwise with each passing day. This has probably been your most challenging year for reasons we could not have believed possible this time last year.
When you turned ten it seemed unbelievable that you’d hit double digits, now you are eleven I can see the teenage years hurtling towards us and it makes me a little sad that time is moving on so fast. We’ve certainly witnessed a lot of teenage outbursts over this last year and sometimes it hasn’t always been possible to recognise the boy I know so well. But as I’ve said, this year has been unlike any other we’ve ever known, and it’s taken its toll on the best of us.
Who knew back in December 2019 that within three months you’d be off school for months. That meeting up with your best friend would be such a rare treat, that hugs would only come from your mum and dad. It’s been a year unlike any other, so many plans we had in place have been cancelled. So many things that we took for granted have been denied us.
You didn’t get to say goodbye to the Year Six children from your class at the end of July. You didn’t get a class photo for the first time since you started in Nursery class. We spent months at home together with me working and you trying to do some school work. It wasn’t a good mix and we didn’t always get on too well. Thankfully the weather was mostly good, so you could escape into the garden at least.
I was so thankful that you had Paddington and Brewster during those months, especially Paddington. Your love for him was a joy to behold and I know how much comfort he gave you. To lose him fifteen days ago is such a tragedy, he was so young and you loved him so very much. He had a short, adventurous life and he couldn’t have wished for a more loving owner than you. He’ll stay in your heart forever. It’s been such a rollercoaster. Watching your bond with him, and your devotion to him, and then seeing your heart shattered with his loss. Being your Mum and not being able to take the pain away and fix things, it’s been hard for us both these last few weeks.
You’ve had to be so resilient this year, in so many ways. I’ve often been so worried about how the Coronavirus pandemic is affecting you. You’re such a quiet child at the best of times, I’m not sure that spending so much time at home with me and the cats have really been so good for you. But you bounced back into school to start Year Six in September and coped much better than I’d given you credit for. It has been lovely watching you and your best friend walking to school together, picking up where you’d left off in the Spring and taking all the new procedures onboard without any wobbles. I’m so thankful that of any years for this to happen, it was this year and not when you were a bit younger. You’ve been amazing and I’m very proud of you.
We decided that earlier this term I wouldn’t meet you from school any more and that I’d wait outside your best friend’s house with his Mum. Seeing your beaming faces walk around the corner that first time is an image that will stay with me for a long time. Soon you’ll be walking to and from school without me at all, you’re ready, I’m not sure I am.
We should have been on Secondary school visits together to help us make our final selection decision ahead of application at the end of October. Thankfully we had visited two of the schools last year, but it would have been good to revisit them, to just be sure. I made the third visit to a new school without you, and you had to accept my thoughts on whether it would be ok there or not. So our application is in and we will find out on 1st March where you’ll be going. I’m praying you get your first choice, time will tell.
We’d normally be on a steam train adventure this weekend to celebrate your advancing years, but not this year. We didn’t want to book something and then it be cancelled, or just be less than we’d normally enjoy. We didn’t want to travel too far from home either. But we do have a surprise for you, not too far from home, no trains involved, but something that will hopefully make you smile.
We might not be able to celebrate your birthday in quite the same way as we would normally, no meal out with your friends this year, just your mum and dad. But we’ll still make your day special and full of love.
What will the year hold for you, now you are eleven? The end of your Primary school days are looming large. I hope you get to celebrate the end of that era in the way you deserve. I hope that there’s a little normality come July 2021. You may not get to go on a school residential in this school year, perhaps you will get to enjoy your last sports day, as you actually rather like them now. I hope you get to have your class photo as a lasting memory of your last year in this school.
I hope you get to see your grandparents in Spain at some point next year, having been unable to see them this year. I know you’ve already spoken about having another kitten in 2021, I’m not sure I can cope with that thought just yet, but time will tell.
I want to see you flying high, without the restrictions that have made life so complicated this year. I want you to be happy, and confident in the things you do, healthy too. I want you to have a blast and grasp opportunities and enjoy the little moments. I hope you’ll remember your time with Paddington and smile, rather than cry, in the months ahead. I hope you’ll appreciate Brewster just that little bit more.
You’ll have SATS to face at school in May, and I don’t want you to worry about them at all. They were always going to be hard for you and after the amount of schooling you missed in Year Five, I really think that they are a total waste of everyone’s time in 2021. They are just a tick to put in a box and move on. You will not be defined by them, I will not let that happen.
It’s hard to plan ahead right now, to give you things to look forward to, but I promise you that just as soon as it’s really safe for us all, we will go on steam train adventures, we will travel the land, we will have your best friend over for dinner and a sleepover and go out for dinner with him. We will get our normal back, and hopefully before you turn twelve! I’ll do everything in my power to make that happen.
Know this, my boy, now you are Eleven, you are loved so very much.