January 13, 2005

The Birthday of the Girl Child was Good

First, thank you all for your very kind birthday wishes. We all had a very nice time, as I will report below.

My wife and I took the Girl Child to school, ran some errands, and then came back at 11 for her little party. It was too sweet. The Girl Child sat at the head of the table with a crown that she and her class made. One boy cried. He always cries, though, because he always wants it to be his birthday. In a way, I certainly identify with him. We brought miniature cup cakes and miniature black and white cookies to hand out to her class. The students all poured their own milk, which was a first for this week, we were told. The lights were dimmed, the candles were lit, and the songs were sung. I can't tell if the Girl Child enjoyed being the center of attention but I certainly enjoyed watching it. And it was all terribly wonderful to watch all of her little friends eat their cupcakes and try to pour their own milk without spilling. A whole variety of techniques for cupcake eating was on display from, one boy, eating only the icing, to another boy, starting at the top and eat down and disregard the paper, to the Girl Child, who took delicate little bites from the bottom until she was left with just the icing -- the best part. You can't teach that, you know.

Then we got to read to the class, both my wife and I. That was fun, too. A whole room of 3-4 year olds hanging on your every word. I enjoyed involving them in the story. There would be points in the story where one of the characters would be warned not to something and I'd pause and ask the class if they thought the character was going to listen and they all shouted, "No!" and asked me what was going to happen next. I'm telling you, a jury trial is nothing compared to trying to capture and engage the average 4 year old.

The Girl Child was then brought home, still wearing her crown, and deposited in front of a plate of her one of her favorite things: chilled shrimp. She inhaled a half a pound and I left to put in an appearance at the office.

I returned, however, bearing heart shaped cakes: 2 pink and 2 chocolate iced and all was forgiven. In fact, the Girl Child ran to get her mother and announced to my wife:

Time to go eat some suuuuugar!!!

My wife was very amused. After cake, and washing the spectacular amount of chocolate off the Boy Child’s face, it was time to open the gifts.

The Girl Child received, among other things, a pair of much exclaimed over animal feet slippers from her brother (they went on immediately and did not come off, maybe, until this morning) and, as her big gift from us, an electronic drum set.

Yes, drum set. Did I mention that the nanny gave notice right there and then? Kidding. At least I hope she was kidding. The drums were a big hit, so to speak. The Girl Child took one drum stick and the Boy Child the other and they merrily banged away at them. It was nice to just watch. Happily, since the drum set is electronic, there is a certain amount of volume control built into the toy, so it may not be the end of peace and harmony forever and ever as we know it.

As for the slippers and my cryptic reference about when they came off her feet? When my wife and I put her to bed, she insisted on wearing her new slippers in bed. When asked why, she said:

Here’s the thing. When you put me into bed, at first, my feet are cold, so I want to sleep with these on. [And then did her best impersonation of an old man from Brooklyn with the shoulders shrugged and both hands held out, palms up, in the physical manifestation of a “what are you gonna do” question]

Last night was also the first official night of sleeping without a diaper. She kept telling us that she was going to wait until she turned four before she gave them up and we could not shake her. So, we all waited. I am proud to report that the night passed without incident. I waited around this morning to catch a later train so I could congratulate her and tell her how proud I am of her for getting through the whole night without a diaper, but she gave no sign of waking so I eventually had to leave. I called her during her breakfast and told her. She seemed pleased.

I was kind of excited that she was out of diapers but my wife thought it poignant and, upon reflection, she’s right (as usual). It is poignant. We have crossed a line here. Some lines, as you go through life, are not so visible, but are very meaningful and some are visible and not to meaningful. I don’t really know where this one falls, perhaps somewhere in between. There is no question it is visible, but is it meaningful? Perhaps it is just poignant because it is visible. Either way, I cast my mind back to when she moved from newborn size diapers to size one and I remember how sad I was that she was growing up so fast. I have never been able to shake that feeling and I try, the best I can, to live as much as I can in the moment with my children, so as to hold on to their childhood as long as I can and to appreciate it without mourning its passing. But then you run into this visible line that you cross and you get jerked back, like a dog at the end of his leash.

Anyway, enough maudlin reflection. There will be plenty of time for that later on Saturday when we have her birthday party with 2,586 screaming children. Then, I will deserve to wallow in maudlin. And Scotch. A lot of Scotch, cause that’s good for headaches, you know?

Posted by Random Penseur at January 13, 2005 03:13 PM

That sounds like a lot of screaming children...! A lot of scotch, yes siree.

Glad to hear the party went well. I share your feelings on the crossing of lines, I think most parents do. As much as we want them to grow, we hate losing that innocent, beautiful child who thinks we're the most wonderful parents in the world. But we'll never lose those memories, will we?

Posted by: Mick at January 13, 2005 03:51 PM

Hope it's good scotch! You'll need it! (Nah, not really...those parties are fun!) :-)

Posted by: Amber at January 13, 2005 04:22 PM

Great gift choice on the drums. So, which one of you (you or your wife) regularly says "Here's the thing"? Or is that something GC picked up all on her own?

I'm going to post something tonight about that maudlin feeling -- I had a big wave of it this past weekend.

Posted by: JohnL at January 13, 2005 04:46 PM



this year we bought my niece a recorder and my 2 nephews a guitar and a keyboard. (all requested gifts)
we had amazing music the entire visit.

though...my sister in law is no longer speaking to me.

this sounds like a wonderful day.

Posted by: standing n. (edited to prevent ugly Google search) at January 13, 2005 08:39 PM

Ah... well do I remember my first set of slippers. They were Bert and Ernie slippies, and Ernie was always on the right foot and Bert was always on the left. My parents have before and after pictures of me proudly drawing my first bath. Nothing special in the before pics, just another one of those family pics of a n*a*k*e*d 3 year old wearing slippies, but the after picture shows a n*a*k*e*d and sopping wet three year old, proudly pointing to the tub, standing in a pool of water since I wore those slippies into the tub; I loved them very much and they needed a cleaning, too.

Little brother chose *very* wisely with that gift! Good luck on Saturday!
Felicem diem natalem, GC!

(Comment edited to prevent nasty Google search)

Posted by: Mandalei at January 14, 2005 09:14 AM

I'm so sorry I missed her birthday day! "Here's the thing" is adorable. Mine said: "Well, actually" all the time. And I don't know where he got it. :: eyeroll ::

I vividly recall a moment in time, when stopped at a traffic light, I had convinced my youngest that I did, indeed, control said traffic control device. He thought I was magic. That's what I miss the most -- the belief that I was magic.

:: sigh ::

You will always remember these times, RP. In fact, you will cherish them. But take heart -- you have so many more milestones and memories to make. She's a gem, kid. Keep up the good work.


Posted by: Margi at January 14, 2005 03:30 PM

*Sheepishly* I think she gets the "here's the thing" thing from me. If she had said, "Vet du hva?", then I'd be sure it came from Mamma.

Thanks for all the great comments, y'all!

Posted by: RP at January 14, 2005 04:00 PM
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