Three, just like that. It seems I held you in my arms barely a car journey ago, but look at you now
The amazing son you have grown to be.
Every word, every laugh, ever tantrum and every tear, I remember them all. And I cherish each and every second.
You melt hearts with your smile, reduce stony faced people behind shop counters to mush with your polite thank you.
You have given your grandparents a new lease of life, won over our dog who lies to protect you at night, and buried yourself deep in the affections of people in ways you will maybe one day come to know.
And you make me so very proud.
Ridiculous, perhaps, given your tender years. But I beam at your first fledgling words of French, delight at how you demand to tell me what day it is.
I watch in admiration as you patiently take things apart, as your granddad used to do, and piece them back together again.
I snigger guiltily as I hear you thud out of bed, again, before clambering the stairs to lift you back under your duvet while you sleep on, seemingly oblivious to the tumble you’ve just taken.
Then there are days when I feel helpless as a cold, sniffle or bug gets past any defence I can offer and lays you low with a fever. Few and far between, but it pains me when you are unwell.
I guess it’s something we’ll just have to get used to, you and me. Life will do that now and again.
But it’s what we can control, that excites me the most.
You’ll know when you’re older about this ridiculous weight loss regime Iain and me decided to do.
Yet there’s maybe a few things to explain. Of how you’ve helped me already.
I used to drink a lot, now far less so. That’s down to you. It’s also the reason why even when I do, I almost always wait until you go to bed.
It’s why you’ve been encouraged to eat fruit and yoghurt over chocolate and sweets and why I smile when you choose the healthy option for yourself.
Why I’ll put you atop my shoulders and carry you to the train station, when we could just as easily catch the bus. It’s good for us both.
And why I bought a new tent, when these days I rarely go camping.
It’s for when you’re old enough to come away with me on adventures, a trek along a hillside and a stop overnight.
I’d like to show you Scotland in all its glory so you’ll come to appreciate it in a way I didn’t until far, far too late.
So you’ll know and be to take advantages of all the splendid things on your doorstep – walking, fishing, hiking, skiing – whatever if you please, which may even take you other places in your life.
It’s why in February I get back to the training seriously, so I’ll be in good enough nick to deliver on these words.
Because you have all this, and more, much more to come. The rest will eventually be up to you.
But for now, dear Joshua, all you need worry about is the toy dinosaur you asked me to get for this your third birthday.
Oh, cake too.
And the bedtime story about a boy and his stuffed tiger that I’ll read you once again tonight, until you fall asleep, leaving me to gaze and wonder at just where those three years have gone already.
Happy birthday Joshua.