Give me a child until he is seven and I will show you the man – Aristotle c.300 BC
Next week my boy will turn seven and, according to Aristotle, he will already be displaying a lot of the elements of the man he will become. When I look at him now, there are very few traces of my small, blonde, round-faced baby and I wonder how much of this wiry, energetic creature before me will remain into adulthood.
Even with his growing similarity to my husband (just watch either of them explaining something whilst pacing up and down with their hands in their pockets) it’s hard to picture William as a grown up. I’m assuming that post-18 he isn’t going to climbing into bed with his parents, filling his pockets with stones and random bits of string or spending hours in the garden making potions from leaves and water. For the sake of anyone he has to share a house with, I hope that he will also not continue to get undressed by walking across the room dropping items of clothing from his body wherever they may fall. And, when he goes to work, it will probably be best if he doesn’t approach a tricky problem by first throwing himself dramatically to the ground professing that he’ll “never be able to do it!”
But there are many parts of his character which I hope are here to stay.
The ease with which he makes friends by approaching everyone he meets saying, “Hi, I’m William.” His ability to completely lose himself in a book and need to share a ‘really funny bit’ by reading it aloud. His relaxed attitude towards material possessions – being just as happy with a sheet of paper that he can fold into a ‘Space Worm’ as he would be with an expensive toy. His quick apology when he does something wrong.
I hope he continues to have a generous spirit, retaining his readiness to share anything he is given with his sister. That his thirst for knowledge and his refusal to accept an answer that he knows is wrong will make him a discerning and thoughtful human being. His gentleness with tiny creatures, his big heart which makes him want to send his toys to the children on the charity adverts, his willingness to laugh at himself are all personality traits which I hope will stay with him forever.
Up until now, much of William’s character has been influenced by us, our families and the friends we choose to let him play with. As he gets older, those influences will be less under our control. He will choose his own friends, the places he will go, the activities he will spend time on. In another seven years he will be two years into teenager-hood with raging hormones to add into the mix. What changes will we see and what will remain?
Aristotle believed that the first seven years of a child’s life are vital, formative years which lay the foundations for their adult personality.
When I look at our William at seven, I hope that he was right.
Happy Birthday Beautiful Boy x