So Poppy is four. For so long she has been my little baby, and now – with a shock almost – I realise she is a little big girl (as she calls herself). Little because, yes, she is petit and pretty, and big because, yes, she is bold and beautiful. She spent her birthday in hospital having a biopsy taken of her stomach to confirm ceoliac disease. After the surgical team sang her Happy Birthday, they put a mask over her little face and as she stared wide-eyed at me, she went limp in my arms, her eyes slowly closing. As they lifted her onto the table, I wanted to hold on a moment longer, so small and delicate, so strong and determined, my heart sometimes can’t contain the love I feel for her.
We pretended her birthday was on Saturday, and our little princess partied with her pink princess friends (some battles aren’t worth the fight). She laughed and danced and ripped open presents. We got her a bike, the smallest we could find and she struggled and practised and persevered until she willed those feet to turn the pedals forward. She has always had to work harder, and try longer to do the normal things – get on the toilet, scoot and run, climb on the bed, keep up with us walking, riding a bicycle. But she is the most determined little big person I’ve ever known. Her first sentence was “I do it!” and she has never stopped saying it (despite being ill for the last two years).
Surgery confirmed ceoliac disease and so a new way of life begins for her. I will have to control everything she puts in her mouth. Every birthday party she goes to, she will have to pass on the cake and the buns and sausages and biscuits and crisps. It’s going to be hard. I’m daunted by the massive change in our lives now (we can’t even toast her bread in our toaster). But, I’ll take a leaf out of her book. I will try and I will succeed.
She’ll have to try harder than anyone else just to thrive. But she will. Because she is petit and powerful. She is dainty and determined. The doctors tell us we will start to see a huge change in her personality over the next few weeks once we cut all gluten from her diet – more energetic, sleeping better, improved moods, happier. And maybe, maybe, she’ll even grow a little.
I find it weird to think the child we know and love so much is going to change – but it will be a bigger, brighter, bolder version of the same lovely girl.
Our little big girl is four, and no matter what else, always fabulous.