To my son on his 17th birthday

What do I say to you on your 17th birthday?

Shall I start by telling you how grateful I am that you came to me at 2 minutes past eleven in the morning on this day many years ago now. I remember the fascination of what you looked like after waiting for 9 months to see. Yes, you arrived on your due date which is apparently quite rare.

You were so wanted by myself as my first child and by your Dad as his first son. Your grandparents adored you having waited over 50 years since they were married to finally get a grandchild.

I was clueless and did not even change your nappy that first day which shocked the GP when he turned up to do his checks. I did not know babies peed or pooed on their first day. There was so much I did not know and I was so pleased that your Dad was already a parent and that my Mum and Dad were around to help. They moved within weeks of your birth so they could do the childcare with me returning to work. I remember how I would come to pick you up and you would be all fed and bathed and looking wonderful. You never really wanted to leave obviously sussing where the expert parents lived.

Your first Christmas was so special and of course snow fell on the day to make it absolutely perfect. I remember your big sister holding you by the window to show you. Fond memories.

I am so pleased that you had such a secure start in life and always think you got the best of things because Mum and Dad were around longer for you than your brother and sister.

Your first passions were my Dad’s car “Rover” and I remember how you would touch the badge on it when he took you on days out. As you were learning to speak you said “Baa!” whatever animal we showed you. We took you to the North Yorkshire Moors Railway and you took it all in and developed a real passion for all things trains and Thomas of course. You were most offended if anyone describe a train as “choo choo”.

You went to a beautiful Montessori nursery and the teacher told us you would be hard to deal with at school as you were off the scale when it came to intelligence. She had also picked up issues around your reading and writing which would bother you throughout your school life. You read so well but were diagnosed with mild dyslexia but the bigger worry was your writing. I am sure you have dyspraxia but nobody wants to listen.

I remember you sitting at the age of 3 with an archaeologist and how he talked with you for hours on equal terms recognising how bright you were. That was in the pub we used to go to where the landlord let you have the run of the place and pinned up your picture of a daffodil. There were Great Danes there which you cuddled up with in front of a log fire with no fear at all.

You are good looking and intelligent. You are funny and have a deep interest and knowledge of history, philosophy and politics. You are far more the scientist than an arts person.

Like me, you rebel against authority (including myself!)so I think you were more than ready to leave school. I love seeing you emerge as the boy I know now that is all out of the way and you can relax a bit.

You are an impressive young man but for me, what I love most is your sweet heart. You have stood up for people when you see them being bullied even by quite big and rough characters. You have said when accused of being gay that you are not but that you do not see the term as an insult as there is nothing wrong with homosexuality. You have sat up all night long counselling people who are struggling emotionally. I remember the Cambridge Reunion where you were right by my side and walking me round the city until I calmed down when it all got a bit overwhelming for me and then bounced me straight back because you knew I wanted to be there really.

I don’t know where you are headed in the future but right now I am delighted you are with me sharing memories and moments. I am sorry that I struggled with depression in some of your earlier years. I am sad for the times I got cross when I really didn’t need to about silly things like homework or fussy eating. I hope I have been good enough and I can’t wait to see how you shake up the world moving forwards.

I love that we can still cuddle up, how we laugh together, rant against the world’s injustices and are now friends as well as Mum and Son.

Happy Birthday darling – you are going to be just fine.

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13 thoughts on “To my son on his 17th birthday”

  1. What an amazingly wonderful and special sun you have, I loved his response to the comment he was gay. I hope my sons still cuddle up to me at 17. It seems to me like you have done a wonderful job. Thank you for linking up to #ablogginggoodtime and congratulations.

  2. Hi Kate, what a lovely letter to your much-loved son. I can totally relate to not knowing how to change a nappy on my first been. Luckily my husband had had plenty of practice with his sister and knew just what to do. Your son sounds like a rock and someone who is comfortable in his own skin. That is refreshing and I hope he continues to grow and make you proud (I’m sure he will).

    Thank you for linking up with the #MMBC.


  3. Just lovely Kate! And how nice that you see yourselves as friends too. Your son sounds like a very well-rounded young man, well done (meant in a totally unpatronising way!) Thanks so much for linking to #HighlightsofHappy

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