We take birthdays pretty seriously in our house, but I don’t think a birthday has ever been quite as anticipated as this one. Not our 40ths last year, not any birthday ever. I don’t know why my daughter decided her 8th birthday was going to be so special and important. But she did. And it was.
She started counting down over a month ago. She made a kind of birthday advent calendar that ran to three pages. She made endless lists – of party guests, food, activities and presents. My girl likes to be organised. She can’t get her head round the fact that it’s her birthday and it’s me and Daddy that are the ones who make it special for her. She doesn’t have to worry about if we’ve got her a cake or not. Because we will do it!
It was the first birthday in our house, so I guess that made it a bit special for all of us. (Although possibly not the boys, who weren’t too pleased at having to get up at 6am to watch their sister open a load of clothes.)
The night before, Daddy and I got all the presents arranged, along with the all-important Pumba, who has held cards for every birthday for the last 20 years. (We only unpacked him this week, I’ll admit I was getting worried we wouldn’t find him in time!)
My daughter had asked for an iPod, which she got and was very pleased with. We’d added Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, One Direction and various other songs she likes in advance, so she could get dancing straight away. Other people had mainly bought her clothes, which ALWAYS goes down well with my daughter.
At the last minute, Daddy had sneaked off and bought his own present. Something illegal. Something which probably made him the best Daddy in the world EVER. Friends and people who follow me on Twitter will know I REALLY HATE hair donuts – those things that make it look like you’ve got a massive bun. I’ve seen them bigger than people’s HEADS. I think they look ridiculous and chavvy. Also, surely the point is to make it look like your hair is longer than it actually is. If your hair is down to your bum, as my daughter’s is, surely this isn’t necessary? Every week when she goes out with Daddy, she shows him the donuts and tells him how she really wants one and Mummy won’t let her have one (Mummy is trying to save her from herself, you see, to teach her good taste). So Daddy went and bought one. His view (which I can understand) is that he doesn’t want her growing up thinking Mummy had stopped her having something she really wanted.
She opened this thing and her face was an absolute picture. She fell about in absolute hysterics, that Daddy had broken the rules. It was the nicest laugh I’d heard in ages. Who am I to deny her that on her birthday?
‘We’ve got you a present,’ said my younger son.
He built up the drama and raised the excitement about this amazing present he and his brother had got for my daughter.
Once she was all excited, he said: ‘It’s this battery. It says March 14 on it,’.
Instead of shouting at them for being mean (as I was inclined to do), her face lit up.
A battery. A dead battery. That said March 14 on it.
Her naivety and absolute trust and faith in the brothers who can be quite mean to her was a joy to see. She couldn’t see they were teasing her. She genuinely thought they’d done something kind by giving her a battery with her birthday on it (and maybe, in a very small way, they had). She might be growing up fast, but her reaction was a reminder to me that she’s still a little girl deep down.
The birthday morning finished with something which we’d never done before, but I suspect will become a new tradition – Daddy made a cooked breakfast (for the three of them that will eat it). A cooked breakfast for the girl with the world’s smallest appetite might seem strange, but she loved it.
She’d had a really special morning and her birthday had hardly even started.