Tomorrow we celebrate another year since you joined us. I can hardly believe it’s been 4 years.
4 years since I walked into the hospital.
4 years since I waited eagerly.
4 years since the calm and dimly lit birthing room was interrupted by the surgeon who knew it was time.
4 years since I stood in the operating theatre between your mum as she lay there and you on the other side of the room not sure where I was meant to be or whose hand I was meant to be holding.
4 years since I looked down at this total stranger and knew that I would love him as long as I had breath in my body.
4 years since the lumber punctures, the heel pricks, the constant prodding and poking.
4 years since my life was turned the right way up and we became a family.
Since then I’ve watched you grow.
I’ve watched you learn to talk and use those words to not just tell me what you want, but to remind me of who I want to be as your dad.
I’ve watched you learn to walk and gasped at how you run at life full speed.
How you find the highest points in a room so you can show me your jumping skills.
How sometimes you just know when to stop, to grab a blanket and find warmth and security under it.
I’ve watched you learn how to interact. How to share, how to make space for others and how to stand up for yourself.
I’ve watched you learn how to think. You ask the best questions. You refuse to take stock answers, you press again and again until the answer makes sense, and you don’t let up until you’re satisfied.
You’re turning 4 at a point in time when the world is shifting.
For the first time in my lifetime it feels like we might finally be making some progress (however small) in making the world a fairer, more equal place.
A place in which you won’t earn more than your cousins just because you’re a boy and they’re girls.
A place in which you’re going to be led by amazing women, and be able to lead women amazingly.
A place in which you’re going to be mentored and discipled by strong, wise women, and be free to mentor and disciple women without fear of how it looks or any holding to nonsensical rules or archaic world-views.
But then, you don’t even get why this would matter. Because you already live in that place.
You don’t expect more than your cousins because you’re a boy.
You already get that sometimes you’re in charge and sometimes one of the girls is in charge. Sometimes you make the decisions and sometimes one of your friends makes the decisions, with no concern for gender.
You already understand that kisses and cuddles have to be asked for, that no-one has a right to expect those things from you unless you want them and you don’t have a right to expect those things from others unless they want them too.
That touch and affection are shared experiences, grounded in respect for the other.
You learn the Bible from brilliant men and women and you don’t expect that will stop as you get older (because it won’t).
You and your friends already live in the world we’re only just beginning to try and create. And that doesn’t even begin to cover how you see past race, care for the planet, understand fairness and couldn’t care less about how much money someone has.
You somehow find common ground with everyone you meet, and that’s something we could all learn a lot from.
So this year, I’m going to try and spend as much time learning from you as I do teaching you.
Sure, I know more about some things than you do yet. I’ve been here longer and had some amazing grown-ups teach me along the way (I’ve still got some amazing grown-ups who are teaching me along the way).
So, for now, I’ll still want to hold your hand as we cross the road, I’ll still be the one who makes the toast at breakfast and pours you your favourite hot chocolate.
But as you turn 4, I promise to listen harder, to watch more closely and to learn more eagerly as you teach me how to become a better dad and a better man.
Above all, I promise to play my part in making sure the world is becoming a better place every day you’re in it.
Because, my son, you already are.
All my love