Now that he is beginning to grasp the concept of periods of time, Isaac has been asking “am I 3½ yet?” almost non-stop over the past couple of weeks. Yesterday was the day on which the answer to that question became “yes”.

It seems like only last week that we were celebrating Zac turning three, but our elder boy has grown a lot in those six months, continuing on the path to becoming a fully-formed individual in his own right, complete with his own personal set of likes and dislikes.

Of course, some of his existing preferences have been reinforced by the passage of time. He remains very much in touch with his feminine side, continuing his preference for all things pink. And he remains, completely unselfconsciously, a boy with a song in his heart and a spring in his step. His ability to instantly recognise a familiar song is as sharp as ever, and he rarely needs prompting to burst into song or show off his latest dance moves. (He spent an inordinate amount of time one weekend recently nailing the choreography to Lady Gaga‘s Born This Way.)

For the record, his current favourite tracks are Pink‘s Funhouse, and Gaga’s Judas and The Edge of Glory. Which, as a complete aside, led to a funny incident in town one day last week. We were queuing at the Co-Op in town, when he spontaneously twirled 360° on the spot and sang “I’m just a holy fool, oh baby, it’s so cruel.” (That’s Judas, incidentally.) The 50-something lady cashier asked him “Oh, is that Madonna?”, to which his smiling reply was “No, it’s Lady Gaga, silly!” At least it elicited a smile from her and a “Kids, eh?” shrug from his inwardly beaming father.

Anyhow, in many other respects he has changed a lot. There has been an obvious step up in the sophistication of both his speech and his thinking. We no longer have to think about making an effort to simplify conversations with him to ensure he understands us. Quite the contrary, in fact – we keep having to think up new ways to introduce new figures of speech to him. He seems to understand at least the sense of everything we say to him, and he gives as good as he gets in return.

In particular, his bargaining skills are razor-sharp – he is adept at getting what he wants, whether it is one more story at bedtime or a pink marshmallow to go with his babyccino. In fact, the next time we buy a car I am thinking about letting him do the haggling. If you ever want a negotiator to persuade some terrorists to free all their hostages and tidy up the mess before they surrender, he’s your boy.

At the same time, as Toby has grown and become increasingly interactive, so too has Zac started to show his caring fraternal side. He will cuddle his brother and show him how to use or play with things. And with the cautious and safety-conscious nature that he has – it’s only a matter of time before he demands a hi-vis jacket – he is generally very mindful of his daredevil brother’s safety, warning him about potential danger and physically dragging him away when necessary. (Leave the two of them alone in a room, and it is rarely more than 60 seconds before you hear Zac shouting “No, Toby, don’t do that. That’s silly!”) No doubt in years to come Toby will be the one who climbs precariously up trees while Zac diligently erects a safety net around him to break his inevitable fall.

In addition to his well-chronicled love of all things technological, Zac has also recently taken an interest in photography. (More on that in a later post.) In part, it’s just an excuse for him to get his hands on more of Daddy’s gadgets, but we have had a few expeditions recently where he has wandered round the house or in the middle of town happily snapping away at whatever interests him. Aside from the obvious joy of pushing buttons and looking at things on screens, he seems to genuinely enjoy it and he has a very different child’s-eye view of the world which I find fascinating. Of course, it’s also another father/son activity for us to do that’s fun for me and also gives us an excuse to keep him out of Heather’s hair for a couple of hours at weekends.

In fact, having always been a real Mummy’s boy, it has been noticeable over the past few weeks that he is now equally happy to spend time in both our company. Sure, there are some things that are definitely ‘Mummy activities’ and others which he associates with me, but he finally seems to have grown out of his clinginess. Which is just fine by me – and I daresay a relief for Heather too.

Ultimately, whether he’s a Mummy’s boy or a Daddy’s boy doesn’t really matter, of course. The most important thing is that he’s our boy. In so many respects, he is nothing like what I imagined a 3½-year old son would be. In others, he is everything I ever wanted – and a lot more besides.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.