I have to say that when I imagined writing your 11th Birthday post, I never once thought it would be in the middle of a global pandemic where we were confined to the house.
Last night, we should have been in Team Sport Cardiff Go Karting with a gang of your friends and today was meant to be spent in the Principality Stadium watching all the games unfold in the Judgement Day showdown followed by your first ever visit to Miller and Carter.
Instead, it’s a party for 4 at home. At your request, we will be having a buffet full of party food for lunch and a BBQ full of burgers, sausages and steaks for tea. Food was always going to be top of the agenda. You must get that from me.
No doubt you will speak to family and friends via WhatsApp video calls or Instagram messages and despite the fact that it doesn’t make up for seeing them in the flesh, you’ve already got plans to rectify that. When lock down was announced and I broke the news to you that we would have to cancel all your birthday plans, in true Finley fashion you declared ‘Well I’m not missing out, will everything be back open by October the 18th? Because if it is then I’ll have an eleven and a half birthday instead!
Always one to look on the bright side, when I went on to explain that there was a chance that you may not go back to Primary School, instead of being sad that you would miss your much anticipated trip to London, your Leaver’s Assembly and End of Year prom, you simply said ‘Well I’m gutted like but at least I won’t have to do the tests!’
And that’s you all over really, nothing ever gets you down. Due to you being classed as vulnerable you haven’t left the house, other than the garden for 26 days. And you haven’t complained once. In fact, you have been a joy to have at home. Whether it’s belting out Max Boyce songs from your bedroom, teaching yourself to make beans on toast as well as counting the carbs, treating me and Daddy to copious mugs of tea while we work (as long as you’re not on holidays), playing tricks on us that you’ve learnt on Instagram, nailing everybody in cards despite not having a clue what you are doing, singing rude songs that you’ve learnt on YouTube or simply hearing the hysterical laughter coming from your bedroom all day every day. You even manage to squeeze in a little bit of work now and again!
As Nanna once said ‘That kid would laugh if his arse was on fire” and that just sums you up. In 11 years, I can’t ever remember you being grumpy or in a bad mood and even on the odd occasion that something upsets you, within half hour you are laughing and joking again. Even as a toddler, when you were put on the naughty step for bad behaviour, instead of sobbing like your brother, you would simply sit there singing “The wheels on the bus!” until you were told you could get off. You never moan or complain about anything and always have a smile on your face, which is such a lovely quality to have. It is really hard to be anything other than happy when I am in your company as your personality is infectious.
And that’s the one good thing to come out of this lock down. Just before the pandemic broke and the restrictions were put in place, I was struggling with your new found independence. Whilst I was pleased that you had the confidence to go off on your own, it sometimes felt that the minute you got home from school, you were making plans to go out that evening and you never seemed to be here. And I’m not going to lie, I found it hard. There have been weekends this year where you and Cian have been out all day and me and Daddy feel completely lost. We are so used to spending weekends together down the caravan that this new normal has been hard to adjust to, even though the two of you are loving every minute of no longer missing out on seeing your friends.
So, during lock down, to have you and your brother here every day has been so lovely. To be back to just the four of us, spending time together, practising your line outs on the trampoline, having BBQ’s, watching films, playing cards, taking part in family quiz nights and just chilling has been well needed and I know I’m going to miss it when everything goes back to normal and you are out of here the minute you are set free.
Prior to Coronavirus taking over our lives, you had such a busy 11th year with plenty of moments to remember.
Rugby tour to Butlins.
Oakwood with all your friends.
Making the main stage in the Wales Millenium Centre starring as “Mam” and coming 2nd overall in Wales.
Transition Evenings at Treorchy Comp.
Your first overnight trip away without us to Llangrannog.
Completing the Welsh 3 Peaks .
Spending our last ever summer at Meadow House.
Supporting your friend Isaac in his Iron Man Challenge for JDRF.
Watching the legend that is Max Boyce live at the Parc and Dare.
Speaking at the Seneddd to give advice to newly diagnosed children..
Interviewed by Diabetes Cymru UK.
A trip to Winter Wonderland with all your friends from Youth Club.
The “adult free” Sporting Marvels Christmas Party which you loved.
A party packed Christmas with family and friends.
And a visit to the Principality for the Six Nations match v Italy.
The only downside to this year has been your rugby. I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who will agree that the 19/20 rugby season has been shocking, predominantly due to the weather.
Storm Ciara, Dennis, and Jorge totally ruined Welsh rugby but your own injuries made everything worse. This season I have watched you get injured time and time again; to the point that I have started to dread every Sunday.
It has killed you to be the water boy on the sidelines so often but you’ve made the best of the opportunities you’ve had in between injuries and you’ve given your all in every game you are lucky enough to play in; be that for Treorchy RFC, Ton Juniors or Rhondda Schools.
Despite me worrying that due to lack of game time you would lose your talent, when you were finally back to full fitness, you walked back onto that pitch like you’d never been away!
The highlight of your season was the RSR game v Blaenau Gwent in March this year where you all played out of your skins and won convincingly, getting to the semi final of the D C Thomas bowl competition. Had you gone on to win the semi final, the final would have been played at the Principality Stadium.
And then the Coronavirus set in and totally wiped out the rest of your season!
I really hope that next season is a better experience for you and I can’t wait to see what your twelfth year brings. I hope it is filled with fun, laughter, happy memories and more importantly than anything, good health.
Being your mother is the easiest job I have ever had and I am so grateful for the relationship you have with your brother. The two of you have grown so close over the last 3 weeks (he’s even let you play online with him and his friends) and it’s been lovely to see.
And as hard as it’s been to watch you grow from the little boy who never left my side to the almost 11 year old who tries to charge me £2 for a cwtch, I genuinely feel that as you are getting older we are just as close, but in a different way. Our personalities are so similar that’s it’s almost like having a little best friend. We cry laughing at the same things and we both have a huge love of sarcasm. And whilst you address me as “Bethular who lives by Spar and likes to go to the bar” or write “Big Girl Dai” on my cards rather than Mammy, it’s all part of the banter and I wouldn’t change a hair on your head.
I promise to make today the best birthday that I can in the circumstances and we will have an even bigger celebration when everything in this weird and wacky world returns to normal.
Happy 11th Birthday Finners!
I love you more than you will ever know!