Happy 4th Birthday, Monkey!

My big girl just got a little bigger. You turned 4 today, Monkey. You’re now so old that I’m having trouble remembering when you weren’t in my life. I’m also having trouble remembering when you were a wee babe, which kind of breaks my heart a little.

Unlike your other birthdays, I didn’t get to spend all of today with you. I had to go to work, so you spent most of the day with Mommy, and then with Grandma just before I got home. But in case you don’t remember today, Monkey, I hope you remembered yesterday.

That’s when we partied.

Okay, maybe not “partied” in the ways that you will in the years to come. (C’mon, you’re only four, for cryin’ out loud!) But you did have a party, with friends you met at school (and not kids that were invited because their parents are friends of Mommy and me), and some of the kids from the neighbourhood. It wasn’t huge — we topped out at maybe 5 kids running around all at once? (Well, 6 if you count me…)

We all got up early, as we had a lot of things to do before your friends arrived. Chocolate blueberry pancakes with real maple syrup. (Does it get any better?) Then you and I had to race out to run a couple of errands: take the rented hedge trimmer back, and then go get your Rapunzel-themed birthday cake from Safeway in Westhills (along with a few other commodities). Then it was a race back home.

Not 10 minutes after we got back, the castle arrived. You’ve been missing your bouncy castles, Monkey. Ever since the Calgary Farmer’s Market moved, you’ve not been getting your bouncy castle fix. Mommy agonized over it, but found one for you that fit rather nicely on the front lawn. You couldn’t wait to get inside.

Choo Choo, you had a little bounce, too, and despite a current inability to jump, I can already tell that you’re going to love these things.

The first guest to arrive was a special guest, Princess Kim, a woman from Mommy’s high school who does girls’ parties dressed as a princess. It really fit with the princess theme that we were drilling into everyone.

(A note to future dads who find that they are having girls: Yes, you will have to deal with dolls, and hair, and princesses, and painted nails, and all the things that will make you cringe in abject fear. Remember one detail: if it makes them happy, then it’s good. Because when the princesses are happy, you’re the King, baby.)

Next up was Camilla, followed soon by Nicole, both from your Spanish preschool. I’m still rather amazed that you don’t seem to have trouble at preschool, but you also seem to have no ability to speak it (yet for a while in Costa Rica, you spoke far more Spanish than English). The final guest was Sophia, the little girl from across the street whom you adore. I hope the two of you are friends for a long time to come.

You bounced, you ate cake at 11:00, you danced with Princess Kim (who also painted your nails, and attempted to do crafts with you), you bounced some more, you opened presents (our home has finally seen its first Barbie), and you bounced.

By noon, Camilla and Nicole were gone, and the bouncy castle saw the arrivals of Coen (the little boy from next door) and Zane (the boy from a few doors down), along with brief appearances from a couple of the other kids in the area. There was bouncing, and there was giggling and laughing, and there was me chasing people with the garden hose (hey, seemed like a good idea at the time).

After a small lunch of berries (fresh, of course), you and Choo Choo both passed out like lead weights. For a brief time, the echoing  cacophony  that had erupted throughout the yard vanished, and it was silent. It was glorious. And Mommy and I realised that, yes, we aren’t the only people in the neighbourhood who have to yell at their kids to get their attention…

You went for your final bounces just after 15:00, and waited right up until the last second before the man pulled the plug on the bouncy castle so he could pack it up and take it away. I felt sorry that it had to go, Monkey, I really did. I almost wish there were a way to get one in your room all the time.

Tonight, Grandma stayed for dinner, and we finished off your Rapunzel cake. We opened your presents (ah, who am I kidding? — you opened your presents … there was no “we” involved, here), and you stayed up late watching Kiki’s Delivery Service.

I hope you had a good birthday, honey. And I hope this is one you remember. Because I hope you remember it for a long, long time to come.

One Reply to “Happy 4th Birthday, Monkey!”

  1. It sounds like you have it right – time for work, time for your family, and time for yourself. When you can combine the last two, it means double the time for both your family and yourself. The kids seem to grow up so quickly but this is the time of their lives that who they are, what they are and how they relate to the rest of the world is established for the rest of their lives. This time of their lives is so important.

    Today I saw photos of my first grandson’s fifth birthday. I was happy to see his father (my son) mixing right in with the kids, even though other parents were socializing only with other parents. It comes naturally to him, after all, it was what we did when he was a kid. I suspect that had much to do with us being a tight knit family then and now. It was and is the same with my two daughters. And you are right – when they want to play with Barbie dolls and have tea parties, you need to play Barbie dolls and drink lots of “tea.”

    Every Friday night was playhouse night. Our three kids, myself, and the family dog would spend the night in the kids’ all weather playhouse. We would talk late into the night about whatever the kids wanted to talk about – no subject was ever taboo. It still comes as a bit of a shock when one of my kids will talk about a conversation we had 25 or 30 years ago, and repeat parts of it verbatim. Funny thing is, we all learned from those conversations, myself included. Well, maybe not the dog, but he still insisted on always spending playhouse night with us. We kept this up until the kids were well into their teens and gave it up only when we had to move and lost the playhouse.

    My wife, too, spent and lot of time with our kids. She was able to quit working when our first was born and was a stay at home mom until the last one was in school. We managed somehow to live on what I made although there were many things we did without. But in the end, our family is much richer for it. I feel sad that that is so rarely possible today.

    Keep up the good work. “Monkey” will be so much better off for it.

    Jim

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