I have a summer birthday, so I never had a school party (nor do I remember school parties being a thing, other than having your name read over the intercom during morning announcements); my birthday was typically celebrated with a very small, rather loosely defined "party" (i.e., a sleepover with Allison) and an evening of cake and presents with my family. There was also my eighth birthday, when I threw a sticker party that almost no one came to, despite having said they would, so really I try not to think about my childhood birthdays too much. Well, except there was this one, which made up for much of the angst of other years:
If I can get Felicity a gift at least once in her life that inspires this same face, I will have succeeded as a parent. And yes, that is a (homemade) Annie dress.
In contrast, Felicity had no less than five birthday celebrations to mark her arrival at age three. We hosted a party for all the kids in my moms' group (they all turned three in Jan, Feb, or March); then last Monday Joe and I went to Felicity's school for her classroom song-and-dance-and-treats (and I managed not to cry while showing the class the poster we made of photos of her life so far, but I did tear up when I saw how much she BEAMED as her teacher put on her special birthday crown and let her pick out some stickers for her shirt); then on her actual birthday she opened presents (clothes, a Calico Critter ballerina bunny, a lighthouse puzzle from Nantucket -- purchased last summer before our ice cream cruise and then promptly forgotten in my closet -- a stuffed snowman from my brother and his family, and a personalized placemat); then on Saturday we had lunch with her honorary auntie, who gave her TWO tutus, a magic wand, a pink leotard, a book, AND two flower headpieces; and FINALLY, this past Sunday, we hosted her Nutcracker-themed ballet birthday extravaganza (complete with non-artifical-pink frosting on the cake, thanks to Smitten Kitchen's Golden Sheet Cake with Berry Buttercream icing, from her cookbook -- perfection).
None of it was Pinterest-perfect, but it was all perfectly imperfect, which is exactly how I like things to be.
Even if her face didn't cave in on itself like mine did re: the Annie dress, she lit up over every single gift she got, and each time she would say, "Oh! What a wonderful gift! We have to write them a nice thank you note!" My grandmother, a lifelong devotee of the thank you note, would be so deeply proud.
When her guests started to arrive for her ballerina party, she ran into her room and I followed her, only to find her gathering every single one of her stuffed animals in her arms. This, clearly, was her ploy to keep any of her friends from playing with her beloved toys. We had a brief talk about sharing and being a good hostess, and after that she was mostly fine. Plus, the sharing was mostly moot since the ballet warm-up started shortly thereafter.
At first, Felicity was a little hesitant and refused the hand-stamp that was offered to her by the teacher -- but when she found out it was a Sugar Plum Fairy stamp, she changed her tune and strode right to the front of the pack. She doesn't settle for minor-player stamps.
After some plies and stretching, she and her friends were led on a magical tour of our foyer and living room as they sought to save a unicorn from the tower of an evil magician's castle. Each partygoer was given a chance to hug the unicorn after triumphantly retrieving it from the back of our armchair.
Then they all sat raptly listening as the teacher read the story of The Nutcracker. It's important to keep your face as close to the book as possible at storytime; you don't want to miss any of the subtle nuances of the illustrations.
Finally, our bevy of ballerinas and our one heroic prince (plus Daddy, who gamely set down his camera for 30 seconds to promenade some ladies around the room during the party scene) danced out the story of the Nutcracker, with a variety of costumes, headpieces, props, and music for each scene.
Then our hard-working dancers stuffed themselves with pizza and cake, and Felicity ripped into her presents. She opened a pair of pink, polka-dotted, ballet-shoed, glittery pajamas from a friend, and I said, "How cute!" Felicity looked at me gravely and said, "Mommy. They are not cute. They are beautiful." (She has worn them every night since. All other pajamas are dead to her.)
She also said to her cake topper as she gave it a warm hug after blowing out her candles, "Don't worry, little baby, we will be your family."
As with Clara's (or Marie's, or Mary's -- why so many names, Nutcracker heroine?) stint at the Land of Sweets, Felicity's birthday week was both too much and too little all at once. So really, it was just right.
Farewell, birthday! We'll see you again next year (but not too soon -- three is shaping up to be all kinds of excellent).