Friday, February 27, 2009

Expectation vs. Reality

Paige turned three today. I had romantic expectations of whimsical sunlight, kids sitting quietly in a circle while Paige delicately opened her presents, family breakfast with hugs and kisses, and no rushing to get to the bus stop before the bus.

Enter reality. I woke up 35 minutes earlier than normal which means I actually had to get out of bed before 7 a.m. Stumbled into the family, pre cup of coffee and was assaulted by four kids dying to unwrap a gift intended for one. Dusty, our puppy, was bouncing off the walls from being pent-up in her kennel all night and I couldn't find my glasses, let alone the camera to capture the excitement of the moment. The kids pushed and shoved and argued over who would "help" Paige open her toy kitchen, then proceeded to fight over pots, pans, oven mitts, and anything else that was new to Paige. Crying ensued, time outs were issued, and by the time things got sorted out, we had to rush to beat the bus.

Before the morning was over, Paige had thrown two fits, was crying for her nukie that we're trying to eliminate, and had pooped in her underwear twice in two hours. After the second "accident" she was relegated to "puffies" - old fashioned training pants covered in plastic that make her butt look abnormally large and when condensed by pants, puff up and over waistband. A very nice, classy look if I do say so myself.

She dressed herself in her favorite orange, striped, kitty shirt which we see at least 4 times a week. The matching striped pants were nowhere to be found, so she paired it with jeans with red cherries on them. It wasn't quite fancy enough, so for good measure she added a silver-sequined dress-up tank top, a purple High School Musical purse and her flowered, wedge, peek-a-boo shoes with no socks.

We went to McDonald's for birthday lunch with her best buddy Oliver and when I unloaded her from the van, I had to laugh. Her breath smelled like she hadn't brushed her teeth in at least two days and we had forgotten to comb her hair. She had red marker on her cheek and eye lid and dried donut caked on her lips and under her nose. Her aforementioned outfit was the icing on the cake, especially when she bent over and her puffies poofed for all the world to see.

And that's when it hit me. My expectations for life rarely match up to reality, but all in all, reality usually twists its way into being so much fuller than my air-brushed, dream world expectation. As un-put-together as Paige was in that moment, she was embracing who she is. A three-year-old with ideas about fashion and favorites and a confidence and innocence to pull it off that I often wish I had.

Our day was a blast. Paige, Alli and Oliver took the McDonald's playland by storm and even managed to add to the menagerie of flavors plastered to their faces with some good soft-serve ice cream and ranch dip. We stopped at the Dollar Store for a birthday balloon and some cherry lip gloss that left a nice pink ring from just under the nostrils to the ears and down the jaw line. A nice touch for sure.

We got home and all three of us crashed into two-hour naps, waking in time to get Grant and Katie from the bus. Next on the agenda was dinner at Grandma Ru and Grandpa Terry's house. They decorated their condo with "Paigey Poo is 3" signs, hung Happy Birthday banners and made her a chocolate cake, with mint frosting in the layers and chocolate frosting and sprinkles on top. The same kind I requested every year when I was growing up. It had a #3 candle on it and was sitting in the middle of the dinner table. We kept busting Paige trying to sneak licks of the frosting while Grandpa finished grilling BBQ chicken for supper.

We did cake, ice cream and birthday song, and then Grandpa led the kids into the living room. He played the "Surprise Symphony" for the kids and they squealed and jumped when the music skipped from quiet to ultra loud in one second. We ballet danced and waltzed around the living room and waited for it to get dark.

When it got dark, Grandma gave each of us a leftover trinket from the bank she works at. They were designed to be book lights that clip onto the pages, but we pretended they were head lamps and used the clip to attach them to our hair. We walked to the park and played in the dark by the light of our head lamps. Grandpa Terry would swing Paige super high and every time she let out a delightful squeal of joy. When the tally of broken head lights topped more than half, we decided to head home. We said our goodbyes, drove home and put a tired crew of kids to bed.

Today's reality exceeded my expectation. Thanks for having a birthday Paigey Poo and sweet dreams.

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