Dear Miss Ivy,
Both your Dad and I were pretty damn fiercely independent before you came along. It's probably hard for you to imagine that now, given that we don't like leaving the house, and we wear pajamas everywhere. In fact, in my heart, I know that when you turn fourteen and I say 'You know, Mum used to be pretty hip to what the youngsters got up to in the juice bars', you'll give me a look.
Any the how. We were independent. Happily, happily independent. We put off the settling down and breeding for a long time, but when we finally got down to it, we looked at each other in amazement and said 'Why did we wait so long?'
You, my sweet, eccentric, intense little bird, were an incredible gift to Daddy and me from the first minute we saw you. The most beautiful baby ever (swear! objectively!), you turned us inside out and upside down and squeezed our toes through our belly buttons. When we weren't weeping with sleep deprivation, we were teary at the wonder, the mystery, the beauty of you. You took us to the doors of psychosis, you put our raw selves on display, you threw unblinking, honest morning light onto our relationship, and you made us into parents.
This week, you turned four.
At four, you are fantastic. You are just so...you. Last month, one of Daddy's work colleagues said warmly ‘Tell me about little Ivy. Is she three? I bet it’s a pink and frilly Princess-land at your place.’ Not so much, Daddy replied, as he tried to explain your interests in blood, bones, death and dinosaurs.
At four, you are full of affection, and like to shout 'I love everybody in the whole world!' When you meet somebody new, you often still nervously stick out your tongue and lift up your shirt. I like to think it's your way of saying 'Look, man, I'm not packing.'
At four, you love to cook with me, and cuddle up to watch Junior Masterchef, our special show. This year, we've decided to start getting professional. I've bought you your own kids cookbook, and I'm going to be your soux-chef as we cook our way through it. (Teddy can be our dish pig, OK? We'll pay him in cake mix. )
At four your creative vision is inexhaustible, and you're not afraid of controversy. Your favourite character is the Black Ghost, who could kill everybody in the whole world. Often, he wears only a mask.
At four, you love to talk to your friend in the mirror. 'Hi!' you say. 'How are you? Fine, how are you? Fine, how are you? Fine, how are you? Fine, how are you?'
At four, you are smart and innovative. You don't need a lot of fancy equipment to make a cubby, or a shopping trolley, or roller skates.
At four, you are bursting with ideas and hopes and dreams for the future, but your happiest place right now is tucked, safe and warm, in the arms of your Daddy and your stuffed dog Dodo.