Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Birthday Season I, in which the Peanut turns 5...

We have two birthday seasons in our little family: the Peanut and me in April, and the Bean and Mr. Sandyshoes in August.

Peanut just turned five (5!). She'd been counting down to her birthday for so long that I thought she might go nuts with excitement as The Day approached. There was some confusion as to how many days remained until her birthday party (which we had on a weekend), vs. her actual birthday. Either way, the counting was exciting.

The birthday party scene is changing a bit. We always just have them in the backyard and hope for the best, weather-wise. But before Peanut was in preschool, her birthday parties were as much for us as for her. We’d have a couple families over and hang out. This year she wanted to party with her own school friends. So I said what the heck, took a deep breath, and invited all of 'em. When the final count was in we were expecting some 15 preschoolers. That could easily have fallen into the "what the HELL was I thinking" category, but it turned out perfect. They all played outside like maniacs. Our swingset looked like something out of an advertisement, except that a professional photographer might've spaced the kiddos out some. We had a bit of a backup at the top of the spiral tube slide. Kids came flying out of that thing all afternoon and climbing back up for more. Mr. Sandyshoes had wiped it down with furniture polish beforehand. Heh heh. That is one fast slide.

For a party activity, I repeated my sand art triumph from the Bean's 5th birthday two years ago. Briefly: kids scoop colored sand into clean baby food jars to make pretty patterns. I highly recommend it for a party of kids this age. It’s just right for their coordination and attention span, it’s creative and fun, and gives them something pretty to take home. Boys and girls seem to love it equally. Most importantly, it’s easy to clean up.

Then it was cake time. Peanut had requested blue icing with pink letters, which sounds simple enough but sometimes I’m not too good at coloring icing. I ended up with something that looked to me like smoked salmon at the bottom of a swimming pool, but she thought it was cool, and that’s all that matters.

So, the weather was gorgeous, the kids were happy, the sand project rocked, the cake made the Peanut even happier than usual, and all was well in partyville. Ten seconds before the party was scheduled to be over, it started to rain. Incredibly perfect timing.

At bedtime, in the spirit of the countdown, I said, "Peanut, tomorrow is the last day you'll be 4!" -- and she just broke down in tears. Oh, did she ever sob, and I felt sad for making her feel sad. "Oh Peanut," I said, “you really liked being four, didn't you?” Nod, sob, sob. “Well,” I said, “the only thing that changes when you're five is the number of fingers you hold up when someone asks how old you are. Everything that's good about being four stays just the same when you're five.” And we counted some of those good things that won’t change.

Part of me is sad to see four go by, too. But she loves her childhood. That makes me feel really good.