“What would you like for your birthday breakfast?” Thoughtful pause. “I’d like breakfast in bed!” This birthday has been anticipated, dreamed about, and planned (by the birthday girl) for many months, but in the end it was special just because it was special. Her siblings prepared her breakfast in bed (“Don’t worry Daddy, it’s just cereal”), and cleaned up the spills; she received phone calls from grandmothers, and started the morning by opening her “parcel” from Grandma Alice (“That’s a hard word to say!”); then fell into the inevitable restless boredom that arises as one waits for party-time; though she perked up briefly during the cake-making and decorating (the “bear cake” has become a family tradition, for the younger birthdays); finally, we put on a movie (Return of the Jedi!) and banished the children to the basement so we could do some proper party prep; and at last (okay, at 5 o’clock), our guests arrived (we were twenty, in all, and it rained, so the party was necessarily indoors); more gifts, swirling in pink capes and princess dresses and everyone trying out the magic tricks; supper (beans and rice, with sides); playtime (nine children, with every age represented from eight down to one), and a game organized for the kids by Kevin; then cake! Kevin and I agreed that we hardly even saw our birthday girl during her party, and that this was a sign she’d enjoyed herself heartily. This was one exhausted and rumpled little ballerina being tucked into bed at a rather late hour last night, holding up four fingers to show just how old she’d become today.
(“Do you feel different?” She checks herself up and down, feels her head, frowns uncertainly. “I guess you still feel just like yourself, huh.”).