On Wednesday morning, Alli tripped down the stairs, messy hair and blurry eyes, and she was five. Well, technically she wasn't OFFICIALLY five until 5:26 p.m., but we let her celebrate all day. Aside from a "sick baby" that she can pretend to make well, all she wanted for her birthday was to party. So we did. FOUR times - once at school, once in Bend with Grandma Marcy and Grandpa Don, and twice on her actual birthday. We are all good and partied out.
Grandpa Terry and his two grandkids, Silas and Jenna, picked up Grant for a day of fun getting acquainted with his new "cousins" and to rescue him from a day with all girls.
At 10:00 a.m., five little girls, most of them age 5, started ringing the doorbell. Some were decked out in their fanciest dresses, others in play clothes, all of them THRILLED to come to a birthday party. Watching their excitement over a play date retitled "party" made me wish I could embrace life with as much gusto and innocence as a five-year-old.
They crowded around Alli as she opened the presents they picked out for her and took pride in showing her their home-made cards, autographed with the scrawlings of a child learning to write. We took pictures, sang Happy Birthday WITH Cha, Cha, Cha's (did you know there is a difference?), and ate the most hideous looking cupcakes imaginable.
A cake decorator, I am NOT, but five-year-olds don't notice how the batter spilled over the side of the ice cream cones and baked onto the edges. Or the child-sized chocolate fingerprints all over the edges from Alli and Katie "helping" me frost them. What they did notice were the cheap plastic rings shoved hastily in the middle of the cupcake. Like lost treasures, they dug them out of the icing and cake, intently licked the frosting out of the nooks and crannies before sliding them on their fingers.
All the princesses went upstairs and immersed themselves in a world of make-believe and genuine friendship. Alli forgot about being a good friend and ended up in time-out at her own party, but somehow that encompasses a bit of who Alli is. And it also is part of being five. It's not easy to learn how to share and to deal with frustration without clobbering someone. Fortunately, Alli found her good behavior somewhere around lunch time and the rest of the day was much more rewarding.
Daddy came home from work early and we opened family gifts, snuggled and took naps. In early evening we headed out for a celebratory dinner at Red Robin. Grandpa Terry, Grandma Ru, Silas, Jenna and Grant met us at the restaurant. We feasted on greasy food and sang the Red Robin version of Happy Birthday to Alli.
We left the restaurant and headed to the park where Grandma Ru gave each of us a can of silly string and we engaged in a quick but gut-wrenchingly fun game of silly string tag. Within 5 minutes our cans were empty and the park was littered with colored goo. We headed to their house where Grandpa Terry presented a surprise to Alli. A butterfly cake that he spent an entire day designing, baking and decorating, all from scratch. A true masterpiece and gift of love.
Alli and I have been butting heads a lot lately and neither of us have thoroughly enjoyed being around each other. I was feeling a bit resentful for the effort we were putting out to celebrate "HER" even though inwardly I was a bit grumbly about some of her behavior choices. As we loaded up to leave Grandma and Grandpa's house, I accidentally slammed her finger in the door. I heard her shriek and a sick feeling washed over me. Time stood still as I tried to get my door open and to my daughter who needed her mommy. The relational dam between us burst as I scooped her up and rushed her to the house. She clung to me as I stroked her hair, wiped her tears, and shushed her until her sobs subsided. I rode in the middle, next to her seat, on the way home and she cuddled up next to me, stroking my leg when she needed comfort.
She wanted Mommy to put her to bed. We went through the drill of detailed and emphatic prayer from Alli, shorter and less exciting prayer from Mommy, and a song that we sing together. We hugged and kissed and snuggled for "two minutes" until she started settling down. I untangled myself from her arms and little legs, gave her one last kiss and stroke of her hair and tiptoed out of her room.
As I closed the door, I thanked God for my FIVE year old daughter. For her drive, determination, and ability to think outside the box to get what she wants. For her compassion, tenderness and generosity. For her need for physical touch and her outgoing, social, personality. For her intensity and strong emotions, even when they make me want to pull out my hair. For her desire to nurture, imitate me, and be a helper. And I realized that even though our sweet Alli is just DYING to grow up, she really is just five.