In some respects I can’t believe M is only just five. She can be very grown up and mature for such a little dot. Mind you, she has always been ahead of the game in mental and emotional development. She was talking in sentences by 18 months and has hardly paused for breath since, constantly challenging my weary brain with her lateral thinking and intense questions.
If M doesn’t know how something works, she does her best to think around the problem. She comes up with weird and wonderful solutions but they always have a hefty dose of logic and clever thinking thrown in. If bees make honey, then surely flies must make jam, right? And if squirrels hide their acorns for the winter, where else could they possibly hide them but up their bottoms, to be laid like eggs when needed? After all, they don’t have any pockets.
She comes out with the most delightful phrases and ideas. These little glimpses into the workings of her dear little head have me in stitches and melt my heart in equal measure. But with such an active brain come some very challenging questions. I found myself having to give her a rudimentary explanation of how a baby gets into a lady’s tummy when she was just two, after a barrage of questions, facing her puzzled and dissatisfied little face when given half information. For now she is content with eggs and seeds but I can see her brain working on the next question. H, three years her senior, still hasn’t even enquired.
One of M’s favourite books is called Evolution, a delightful, kid-friendly picture book about the earth and how we came to be here. It was a panic purchase after months of questions about who the first ever person was. I once spent an hour-long car journey struggling to explain how we evolved from monkeys in terms that a three-year old could comprehend. She went quiet for a moment, thought hard and then said “Hold on, are you saying monkeys turn into babies?!” The book has helped a lot with that one.
But the questions never end, from the easy ones to the impossible. She asks things I’ve never even contemplated. It can be exhausting and we were both delighted when school started and her world widened to include more adults that she can quiz. She is now driving both me and her teacher crazy, and I have someone to defer to if I can’t work out how to explain something. “Why don’t you ask Mrs X, tomorrow?”
M is changing so fast now, it is hard to keep up. The start of school was only a few short months ago but in that time she has smoothly shifted gear, moving from the small circle of her family to being a fully fledged member of the school community. She has a social network to be proud of and embraces every aspect of school life. She is a natural and has never looked back, lapping up each new experience.
Away from her best behaviour at school, my girl is certainly no angel. She is raucous and bawdy. Her toilet humour repertoire far outstrips that of her big brother, who she regularly has in stitches with her endless stream of bum, poo, willy and wee jokes. After an overheard throw-away remark about girls’ play dates being less noisy than boys’ (it is easy to forget that her little ears never miss a thing) she recently announced “Girls are quieter than boys, aren’t they Mummy?” and I nearly choked on my tea laughing. Our girl is the noisiest of our three by a county mile. She even beats her stroppy little brother. Her voice booms out like a klaxon. She may like princesses and all things pink when the mood takes her but meek and retiring she ain’t. She is fierce, loud and wonderfully forthright. She is a force to be reckoned with and sharp as a tack, running rings around us already.
Whilst she knows how to play beautifully with both her brothers, M has an uncanny knack of winding them up. With H, she knows exactly how to needle him for the most extreme reaction. Easily done with my melodramatic eldest but she has mastered the art beautifully. With the little one, she likes nothing better than to gee him up into a wild frenzy, making him more and more manic and running him up and down the hall. He adores it – and hero worships her – but it is extremely loud and always ends with him smacking into a doorframe or face-planting.
Looking at my little girl today, I saw just how much she has changed in the last year. Gone are the baby chubby cheeks and sticky-out toddler tummy. She is a leggy beanpole now and graceful, in a funny sort of way. She has always been our accident prone one, tripping up dramatically several times a day until relatively recently. Her knees were permanently pulverised and she has been to A&E twice after nasty mishaps, so I never thought I’d see her as graceful. And she still is clumsy really, but she reminds me of a baby deer now. Not quite in control of her rangy limbs yet, but with promise that she will be soon. And when she is, it is going to be quite something.
For all this change and growth, my little girl is still my baby. She bear hugs me as often as she possibly can and I can’t sit down without her clambering onto my lap, wrestling with the little one for prime position. She still misses me when she goes to school and that sometimes makes her sad, although she gets over it fast enough when she sees all her friends tumbling into the playground.
She has always made it clear that Mummy is everything in her eyes and was inseparable from me for the first couple of years. And much as new things have come into her world, she hasn’t lost that attachment yet. It doesn’t even seem to be remotely diluted, for which I am very grateful.
Like all good birthdays, M is celebrating hers for about 10 days, with various gatherings and parties, and she is buzzing with wide-eyed excitement. It is going to be a blast.
So, Happy Birthday, my dear little M. I am very proud of who you are becoming and I could not love you more.