Babel is Four

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You are four! Wow, that means you are school age! If we lived in the Netherlands you would have started kindergarten (or group 1 of elementary school) on your fourth birthday. But here in England all four-year-olds start elementary school together in September. So we still have to wait a few more months. What’s also different here, is that you’ll only have one year of kindergarten (know as ‘reception’) before you start your six years of elementary education. Meaning you will be 11 instead of 12 when you start secondary school. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

You will start reception this year September and you and your future classmates already have some trial sessions happening in a few weeks. Oh! And you’ll be wearing a uniform when you go to school. Papa used to have uniforms in school in Japan as well, so he’s used to it. But I have never had a school uniform in my life, so it’s quite weird and a bit exciting to me.

You’re still my nursling. ‘Milkie’ is your comfort when you’ve hurt yourself, when you’re upset or angry, and when you’re about to fall asleep and wake up. I never imagined myself to be breastfeeding a four-year-old, but I am very proud we got here. My goal was the recommended minimum of two years, and I knew that from then on the ‘beyond’ part would be up to you. Well, now we have doubled my goal of 2 years, what a milestone!

When I fell pregnant with the triplets I was very worried my milk would dry up soon, but it’s still here and I’m almost in my third trimester so I’m hoping I’m one of those moms who never dries up during pregnancy. I’ve been looking forward to tandem feeding you with a future sibling, since before I even fell pregnant. I believe it will be a great way to help you bond with your brother or sister and I have two boobs anyways, so it always made perfect sense.

Of course, the fact that three siblings are simultaneously on their way complicates things a little bit. But you’ve already got a solution for that: first, two babies get milkies and when they’re done, baby number three and you get to have a turn. I know you will be able to handle this arrangement easily, I’m just a little nervous about the third baby, who has to wait their turn, if they will be as understanding. But the plan is to nurse the babies on demand, so let’s hope they don’t constantly all need milkies at the exact same time.

We spent your fourth birthday in Thomas Land. You’re still a big fan of Thomas and Friends and you loved our trip to the Japanese Thomas Land, so when I found out there’s an English version quite near to Derby, I knew we had to take you there.

The weather had been pretty nice in the days leading up to your birthday, but the weather report predicted that your actual birthday was going to wet, very wet. But that wasn’t going to stop us from having fun and celebrating your birthday in Thomas Land. We brought rain ponchos and good spirits. Indeed, it was a very wet day, we all got soaked to the bone, but we also had some dry and sunny times in between.

The best part was that it wasn’t crowded at all, even though it was in the middle of the Easter school vacation. When we went to Thomas Land in Japan, it was early January and it was freezing, so there was hardly anyone at that theme park. It was quite the blessing, because we got to ride many rides over and over without having to wait in line at all. And now the same was true for our visit to the English Thomas Land.

I only got to ride the actual Thomas train with you and Papa, where the driver announced loudly it was your fourth birthday. The rest of the time I spent being wheeled around in a wheelchair (just like at my birthday last year) and taking photos and videos of you on rides with Papa and Oma Lia. You three went on a lot of rides and on quite a few repeats. They also had a very cool Thomas themed soft play area in which you dragged one of the park’s staff members up and down the playframe and slides with you (because parents weren’t allowed in).

This Thomas land had more rides and many different ones than the one in Japan. The scariest one was definitely the Troublesome Trucks Rollercoaster. The Duncan Rollercoaster in Japan was perfect for little ones, apparently the one here in England was a proper one. When you were waiting to get on the ride the rain was already pouring down, but during the actual two-minute-ride it came down so hard, any rain protection we brought was rendered totally useless. So you did not enjoy that ride, not only were you soaked to the bone, you were sitting in the front car and it was simply too scary and too fast for you. You cried most of that ride.

When we came home from a wet but fun day at Thomas Land you finished making your own birthday cake (with a little help from Oma and Mama). You wanted a simple white cake with lots of whipped cream and that’s what you made. We sang “Happy Birthday” and you blew out your candles, and like previous years we did that a few times because you love blowing out candles. Then we all had your yummy birthday cake for dinner!

We had your birthday party for friends two days later. I have loved organizing your birthday parties in previous years. I especially spent a lot of effort, time and money last year. It was fun coming up with a theme, making and collecting decorations, thinking up fun games and activities, creating a dessert table and more. But I knew this was not really an option this year. I knew I was going to be heavily pregnant with triplets and would not have the energy to do all this.

So this year we knew we were going to buy a kids party package at some venue somewhere. All these places always require a minimum of 10 kids at a party, and this was the first year you know enough kids to invite because of you going to nursery. I’m not a huge fan of English kid’s parties, especially the ones organized by venues. My biggest pet peeves are cut up pieces of birthday cake stuffed into napkins (to take home) and no time for opening presents because these parties are always super rushed to make space for the next party. I also don’t really get why eating a warm meal (usually fries, nuggets, and pizza) is always part of a birthday party. These parties take place at a time between lunch and dinner so what’s the point, and why on earth do sloppy fries and stale pizza get prioritized over eating birthday cake and opening presents. Since the latter are quintessential birthday party activities to me. The positives about an organized party is that it’s super easy and actually quite cheap. And that completely outweighed any negatives for us this year.

We had your birthday party at a sports center near our house. You and 14 of your friends played football and dodgeball for an hour and then drank juice and ate fries, nuggets and pizza. Then your store-bought birthday cake made a quick appearance for a song and you blowing out your candles before being cut up in the back to be stuffed into napkins. We went home with a mountain of presents and a happy and sweaty little boy. And that’s what mattered the most: you were happy. It was a successful party, and it was super easy and cheap for me to organize. You had fun with your friends. They all came out to honor your birthday and to play with you, and even better they all brought you surprises (what you call gifts).

You’re four, little man. It’s fun to look at old videos of when you were a baby and see how much you’ve grown and how much you’ve changed. You are the light of our lives and we really love being your parents and experiencing life with you. In a few weeks you will become a big brother and I’m super excited to see you interact with your baby siblings. It’s going to be a big change for you, and us, but I know we’ll find a way as a new family of six. You’re such an amazing soul. You are so loving and kindhearted and I can’t believe how lucky we are that you are our son. Your siblings are lucky to get you for a big brother. I love you, sweetie. Happy Birthday.

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