Can you remember what you were doing four years ago today?

I certainly can. I was spending the early hours of the morning — there’s a rule that says that all of my children’s births commenced (one way or another) at 3am on a Saturday morning, although nobody really knows why — with my then two-year old daughter, and a very pregnant wife who had just spent the past week in hospital, as her waters had broken seven days earlier. Eventually, my mother-in-law turned up and took my daughter off — birthing rooms are no place for two year olds with vivid imaginations –and at 5:56am, 2.46kg of James Keir McIvor Roberts Kidman was born.

For the record, I was awake this morning at 5:56am, albeit barely. There was certainly less adrenaline rushing through my system today than there was back in 2004.

As with all of our kids, we’d worked out a shortlist of names to give our second born — we didn’t know the gender upfront, as we never wanted to, so I’ve still got a shortlist of girl’s names rattling around somewhere that I’ll now never use — but we wanted to get through the birth first. Partly because our first child was five weeks premature, and we went through quite a bit in the four weeks before she could come home, but mostly because we didn’t want to decide what to call a given child before we’d actually met him or her. In a strange bit of synchronicity, our second child was exactly the same amount premature as well.

Anyway, out plops our firstborn son… and we’re stymied. With Zoe, it was massively clear from very early on that “Zoe” was the best fit — those that know her might want to look up the Greek derivation — it’s very apt. Here, not so much. We whittled and whittled and whittled down the list — in a public hospital there’s always LOTS of waiting time — until we had two. And we couldn’t pick between them. So, our second born child got, essentially, two first names, James and Keir. It’s unusual, in that we almost never use Keir except on documents, but he’s always got the choice to take it up if he feels the need in later life. For those curious, we drew up a completely different list of boy’s names for our third child; he didn’t get James’ cast-offs.

Four rather challenging years have passed since then — and I’m happy to have been rather more involved with James’ upbringing than many fathers are with their sons, thanks to my freelance work allowing me to be at home for most of the time. James is just a little bit bigger, and while he doesn’t get to celebrate with a birthday party until next weekend (a complicated story all in itself), he got a celebratory lunch and swim today. He still drives me intermittently nuts, but I’m also unashamedly crazy about him, so it all evens out.

Happy Birthday, little man. Although not so little any more.

Pool time!

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