Dad’s Diary

Rory Fitzgerald describes his son’s fourth birthday

"When Iím four, I will be this big!î said Sean, gesturing about a foot above his head. ìWell, your birthday is tomorrow, so youíd better grow fast,î I reply. ìI will,î he said confidently.

His fourth birthday had been looming large on the horizon for many weeks. Having been three for about as long as he could remember, turning four promised wondrous transformations. Big boys he had known had been four. Boys who could do amazing things.

He expected some instantaneous metamorphosis upon his birthday, like the caterpillar that he is so fond of reading about, who suddenly becomes a butterfly at the end of the book. (In fact, I knew, our brand new four-year-old boy would actually become a caterpillar on his birthday, as a caterpillar costume was one of his presents.) For me, his turning four was something of a milestone too. It clearly marked the transition between his being a toddler and a little boy – a little boy so full of love and imagination that he lights up my life and the lives of all of us so lucky to know him.

What he wanted most for his birthday was to have those he loved around. He didnít really talk about presents much in advance, just his party and how nana and grandad and his uncles, aunts, cousins and friends would be there. Eventually, we had to press him as to what presents he actually wanted a week or so before the big day. After some solemn thought, a certain answer came: he wanted a space rocket.

I promised him one instantly, saying, ìThatís a great idea, I will get you a brilliant space rocket!î It seemed like a safe promise to make at the time. After all, you would think, wouldnít you, that the many toy superstores around Dublin would have a selection of toy space rockets on offer. Well, I have news for you: there is a chronic space rocket shortage in Dublin, indeed there is not a toy space rocket to be found across the length and breadth of …ireann.

After much panicked driving and ringing about, and online searches, we found and ordered express delivery of a massive space rocket from Britain. Thankfully, it arrived just in the nick of time, and was ready to greet the birthday boy after his excited pre-dawn arrival in our bedroom.

He was unusally welcome given the odd hour of the morning, and was much-hugged and treated to a special breakfast as a happy day began. Family and friends soon arrived with smiles and small gifts while one delighted little boy bounced around, high on the love of all around him. And late that night, as he slept after a day of joyful exertion, I tucked the slumbering birthday boy in, and gazed at his sweet sleeping face with a tender sort of awe, and quietly gave thanks for him, from the very deepest part of my being.