A child’s fourth birthday: entering the magical years

Tonight is the eve of Austin’s fourth birthday.

My mother-in-law says the next few years of a child’s life are magical. Gone are the nappies and (mostly) the tantrums. The remnants of attachment begun in the womb – breastfeeding, frequent demands to be picked up – have faded into the past. Instead, along with every cuddle comes a heart-tug of memory, without the physical drain of those early years.

And the character of the child is there to see. They’re still the baby you gave birth to; they still look to you for guidance, and help when it’s needed. But the person they are – and who they’re going to be – is in plain sight.

After four years of getting to know each other, we can say that Austin is already unmistakeably himself.

A gregarious boy, happiest when part of a familiar pack. It takes an age to prise him away from nursery; he spends a good ten minutes running round outside the school gates, shouting goodbyes to all his classmates. If they don’t answer, he bombards them with an even more determined barrage of farewells.


A child who is physically bold, sturdy, and always game for new experiences. The unfamiliar doesn’t holds any menace; instead, it’s there to be mined for its thrills. A day can’t be too long or action-packed and, at its end, no storybook adventure is too far-flung for our eager explorer.

A lover of food. Mussels and blue cheese don’t phase this little gourmet; one of his earliest dining experiences was sitting in a restaurant, stealing handfuls of the finest Iberian ham from my plate. When a dish is put in front him, the common refrain is ‘Mummy/Daddy, how did you make this?’

Nothing but a highly detailed answer will do.

A boy of deep, lasting attachments, who still frequently talks about his first best friend, even though the family has moved away, and weekly get-togethers are a thing of the past. Someone who ranks one-on-one time with Mum or Dad as an  inferior second behind tripping off to mischief with his little sister.

Austin, you changed our lives, infinitely for the better. The day you were born was the end of the person I was, and the beginning of who I am.

On that morning, you scorched a trail into our lives. A furrow strewn with seedlings, and boy-sized roots.

Tomorrow, you’ll begin your magical years, armed with fortitude of character and the love of those around you.

Let those seedlings bloom, and your roots grow deep into the world.

It’s yours for the taking.

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22 thoughts on “A child’s fourth birthday: entering the magical years

  1. mother.wife.me

    “Austin, you changed our lives, infinitely for the better. The day you were born was the end of the person I was, and the beginning of who I am”….. tears in my eyes reading this beautifully worded sentence, it says it all about how I feel about motherhood – off to find a tissue… #PoCoLo

  2. Zarouhi Zaz

    What a beautiful post, your son sounds like quite a character, bringing much happiness to you – I love the sound of his exuberance and curiosity, and sounds as though he has a zest for life and a sweet spirit too. Well done you for 4 years of parenting!

  3. Victoria Welton

    What a beautiful, beauitful post – love the line ‘On that morning, you scorched a trail into our lives. A furrow strewn with seedlings, and boy-sized roots.’ Austin is a wonderful name too. Hope he has had a wonderful birthday. Thanks for linking to PoCoLo x

  4. Suzanne Whitton

    I remember my son turning 4, he suddenly seemed so grown up! I wish I had taken heed of your MIL’s advice, it’s so true – a wonderful age (after tantrums and before ‘knowing it all’ kicks in!). Enjoy x

  5. Vicki - The Free From Fairy

    A truly beautiful post that brought tears to my eyes. My littlest is 4 and a half and so I relate to this so much. He is certainly a character…a beautiful cuddly little boy who is full of confidence and excitement! I love watching them grow although there are days when I feel it is happening all too quickly and I want to slow it all down and keep them as they are! But each day is an adventure and one to be enjoyed!
    Vicki – The Free From Fairy recently posted…Gluten-free, Dairy-free Hot Cross Buns part 1My Profile

  6. AroundUpsideDown

    What a gorgeous boy and such a blessing. 4 is such a special age – where they grow out of toddler hood, and start being an independent little grown up. Of course there is school to consider too.

    My daughter is also a fearless eater and was happily eating sushi and smoked salmon in her high chair and is still the same :-)

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