It is nigh upon midnight on my son's 4th birthday and I am propping my eyes open with matchsticks I'm so tired.
It's been an enormous day - in the end there were 21 children here, although not all at once and some of them were younger siblings... but still. 21 children. Twenty one. Children.
We also hosted an all-day play-date for 4 of them as part of our 'nursery is closed, let's all look after each other's kids' rota. Luckily one of the Dad's was over offering support or I would have been under the table by noon.
The mistake, I think, was getting the kids doing party decorations at 10am; by the time 11am rolled around all they wanted to do was eat cake and have a party; making them wait until 3:30 when everyone else got here was perhaps a leetle draconian. Still, it was a day.
It's beyond cliche, any mention of how much a parent loves their child and so just assume I've laid down all the cliches for you here, just sicked them up and rolled them out to pulsate pinkly in the light of the laptop screen... Yes, it is true, I love my son... and today he really shone.
He was, in the main, generous with his time and his toys (to the point where many of them are broken or thrown to the wild winds... we will never have a party in the house again), he cleaned up, he helped out, he led games and was among a small coterie of the best behaved children. He didn't push or throw, tease or bully, he didn't snatch or hog; he was a total gent and I'm a whole other hill of cliches proud.
4 is quite grown up, it turns out. Not as grown up as it seems when one is 3, ie, he has discovered to his chagrin that he cannot drive the car or go to the park by himself or ride his new bike without stabilisers or... there was something else he wanted to do today that I told him he couldn't do until he was a grown up. 'So, when I'm 5?' he asked, hopefully.
Still, in the last year he has grown tall enough to reach the taps in the kitchen, the doorbell outside and a whole host of things I sort of reckoned we had another year or two before he could do. He can take things out of the fridge and pour them into cups without spilling, dress himself, wash himself, get in and out of the bath just by stepping over the edge...
Anyway, all to say that he's remarkably grown up, an illusion that is swiftly shattered when one sees him next to any child over the age of 8 and suddenly he looks so tiny and vulnerable that I feel the need to swoop over him and carry him home; something about which he would in general be quite happy about; chances of a carry when one is nearly three foot six and weighs in at 43 pounds are pretty slim on the ground.
So, that's that. He's 4. Happy Birthday, baby bear.