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 anΒ  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. What a beautiful post – when Austin is older you’ll be able to show him this as it’s one of the loveliest things I have read – love that he likes mussels and blue cheese too πŸ™‚ #pocolo

  2. What a beautiful post and what a gorgeous little boy you have. Happy Birthday to Austin x #pocolo

  3. “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

  4. Beautiful blog!
    First time here and loving it.
    Hope to see you on my blog:)

  5. Aww lovely, hope he has a great birthday today πŸ™‚ lovely pictures ..
    Thanks for sharing at the weekend blog hop πŸ™‚

  6. 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!

  7. What a wonderful post to read. Just lovely. My older boy is four and a half, and I have to say, it’s a delightful age. x

  8. They are amazing at this age. Little sponges soaking up information and teaching us so much. Happy birthday to him πŸ™‚

  9. 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

  10. 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

  11. Nel, what a gorgeous tribute to a gorgeous boy. And it sounds like you have a great MIL too. Lucky you!

  12. 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

  13. 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 πŸ™‚

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