My younger daughter turned 7 this week. I always find my children’s birthdays intensely emotionally conflicting, and this one was no exception. Excitement at her excitement. Pride that we have made it though another year without any catastrophic parenting failures (even though there are sundry minor ones on a daily basis!). Stress from organising it all, the venue, the games, the party bags, the food, the gifts, the cake, the guest list and the invitations. Huge nostalgia for the baby days, and disbelief that the totally dependent little person I grew in, and fed out of, my body is now a (very) independent little girl lecturing me on the correct use of prepositions. Sadness at the stages we have passed never to return too. Relief at the stages we have passed never to return to. Happiness at the sheer good fortune that made me her mother. All overlaid this year with the omnipresent Covid anxiety.
The nice thing about being an Advent baby from my daughter’s point of view is that she doesn’t suffer the inevitable flatness after a birthday celebration is ended because it is always straight into Christmas afterwards. The downside from my point of view is that Christmas preparations get shunted aside in favour of birthday preparations, and now the birthday is over and I am feeling physically and emotionally like a limp rag, I have to crank things up a gear and get writing cards and wrapping presents.
I’m pretty sure that she had a good birthday, though. Unlike this year the party wasn’t limited to 5 friends outdoors, and so we had a raucous time in the school hall which I hired out for the afternoon, playing all the traditional party games – grandmother’s footsteps, pass the parcel, musical statues, musical chairs, Ice Monster (which was called Stuck in the Mud in my young day!), potato and spoon races, and bashing the hell out of a piñata with a plastic hockey stick. I have to say that my best tip for running a 7 year old’s birthday party is to have an older child of nearly 13 who does it for you! I admit it takes some planning and forethought, but if you can pull it off it dramatically reduces your stress levels on the day. The piece de resistance was a Bubblewrap Dancefloor. My daughter was bouncing up and down to pop the bubbles on some packaging I had received a few months ago when she suddenly decided it would make a brilliant dance floor, and she wanted one at her party. She has been assiduously collecting it ever since, including persuading me to indulge in some skip-diving, to the point where her bedroom looked like a packaging warehouse.
My littlest girl isn’t that little any more, but she is so lovely. Feisty and independent and intelligent and strong-minded and funny, caring, friendly, sociable, chatty and thoughtful. At the moment she wants to be an astronomer when she grows up, and she is full of enquiry and curiosity as to how the world around her works. Like most children she has had a difficult and disrupted year, with 2.5 months of homeschooling when her friends were just faces on Google Classroom, and a growing acceptance of the idea that any plans, however cherished, may have to be cancelled at a moment’s notice for Covid related reasons. Despite this she is cheerful and sunshiny and often puts me to shame by her stoicism and good humour.
Happy birthday. We love you to the moon and back, our darling little astronomer.
How it started… How it’s going…