A birthday letter to my seven-year-old son

Good morning, Isaac. It’s your seventh birthday today – not that you needed reminding! – and really, genuinely and truly it feels like only a few months since you emerged from the birthing pool in our dining room all gooey and slimy and perfect. Our lives have never been the same since.

One day when you grow up and maybe have children of your own you’ll come to realise what your mother and I gave up when we had you, Toby and Kara. Exotic holidays to faraway places (yes, further even than Butlins!) A regular social life. My beloved Audi TT. Yes, of course, we gained a whole lot in exchange and we’d do it all again in a heartbeat. But one day you’ll understand how much we sacrificed, and therefore how much it means to us to have you. (Please work it out before I do – it took me 40-odd years to fully appreciate it myself.)

Anyway, I look at you and I still see the tiny baby you were. But I also see the growing boy you are now. And I can glimpse the fine young man I know you will become.

Here are just a few of the many things I love about you.

I love that I can see the best of both your mother and I in you. Our shared love of reading. Her brains, problem-solving ability and determination. My liking for manipulating the written word and my Mr Magoo short-sightedness. (Sorry about that last one.)

I love your thoughtfulness and sensitivity. You have an amazing capacity for detail and thinking through the logical implications of things. But you also have this wonderful empathetic quality – yes, you’re polite and kind, but you’re also not afraid to show your feelings and always quick to provide a comforting arm around the shoulder or a few supportive words just when someone needs it, even if that someone is one of your parents.

I love your intuitive grasp of modern technology. True story: you mastered my iPod in the same week you learned to walk. We only have to show you how to do things once, and you’re already starting to show me things on the computer that I didn’t know how to do. And I love that you’re the kid in class who others turn to when they need help during laptop time.

I love all the little things that have given you your individuality over these past seven years. The pink phase. Your love of a babyccino and a good seat from which to people-watch. The near obsessive-compulsive love of rules and regulations. (I really should have bought you a hard hat, a hi-vis jacket and a roll of that yellow-and-black tape for your birthday.)

I love all these things about you – and so much more. Yes, there are a few things about you that could be a little better. But let’s not dwell on those. Let’s celebrate the good stuff.

I want the world for you, Isaac, and every passing year brings you a little bit closer to having it.

Happy birthday, son. Enjoy being seven.