I can remember the day you were born like it was yesterday. You surprised us all, arriving at just 34 weeks, and then surprised us all again by being a whopping 6lbs 4oz. You were a little fighter even then – you didn’t need any help with your breathing even though you were born too early. You just needed some help to stay warm and learning how to feed. We were told you could be in hospital for up to 6 weeks, but you came home after just 10 days.
I remember having to leave you in SCBU, I remember having to go home without you. But the nurses reassured me – you were a tough cookie, you were strong, you would fight. You would be home soon. They were right.
At almost 8, you are still a tough cookie. If you fall, you get back up and dust yourself down. If you get tackled playing football, you jump back up and carry on with the game. I am proud of you for that.
At almost 8, you are still strong. You can lift your baby sister for a cuddle. You help to carry the shopping. I am proud of you for that.
At almost 8, you still fight. You still fight against me. When you are asked to do something you don’t want to, you make your voice heard. You scream, you shout, you stamp your feet. You’d never hurt anyone, but sometimes your anger hurts me. I question myself. Is this normal for a 7 year old? Is this something all boys of this age go through? Are you just testing the boundaries?
We have some lovely times. You will still hold my hand when we walk in the woods. You will cuddle me before bed. You are SO pleased when you bring a picture home from school and we all praise you, when you score a goal at football and we cheer the loudest, when you have been super helpful and earned yourself some extra pocket money.
But we also have some really hard times. The days where I have said no more computer games and you shout and slam the cupboard door. The days when one of your siblings has been given something that you want, or they have earned pennies and you haven’t. Then you cry and scream and kick the bed when we put you in your room. The days when you don’t want to go to the supermarket and you lie on the floor with your hands balled into fists.
Those days are hard.
I find it difficult to know what to say to make it better. I don’t know if I should be disciplining you or holding you in my arms. I don’t know why you are so angry some days, where these feelings have come from. Is it something I did, or didn’t do? Was it always there right from the beginning, when you came too soon and had to fight? Or is this a totally normal phase for a 7 year old boy, is it part of you finding out who you are?
You are my bright, inquisitive, kind little boy who would do anything for one more game of football. Who would walk to the ends of the earth for his baby sister, who will sneak up behind me in the kitchen and wrap his arms around me. I am so proud of you. I am proud of your fight, I am. It saved you. You could use it for so much. I can’t wait to see the man you grow into.