Lo Hicimos! We did it!
~ Dora the Explorer, at the end of every show
One year later, we find our little heroine in a whole new place. Her sixth birthday party, thank God, looked far different than her fifth. Only the birthday ‘hat’ remained the same. Oh, and the Dora theme (minus Halloween). But this year, there was something new. And beautiful. Something that lit up the room. And now glows from the screen.
My baby’s SMILE.
This year, as promised, Mama got a clue. Gone were the twenty-four children (what the HELL had I been thinking?) and their parents (no, seriously, what was I thinking?) all packed (what’s that, like fifty two people in total?) into a low ceilinged room (torture chamber?) for a party (that despite the efforts of a wonderful entertainer was about as much fun for my baby girl as an enema.)
This year, we kept it small. Very small. It wasn’t easy to do. We had to draw a line and stick to it. We invited only the girls from Brooke’s class. Not a single extra friend. Not even her adorable little buddy, Clara or her darling pal, L from preschool. Not even the twin sister of one of the attendees. It felt awful knowing we were leaving out some dear, dear friends, but it was the only way to make it work. Lessons learned the hard way tend to stick. We sent ten invitations in total. We had eight guests. It was perfect.
Brooke wanted her party to be at home. She asked for a lovely local children’s singer to come and entertain the troops. The eight grandparents all generously chipped in again and helped to foot the bill. Katie, bless her sweet heart, asked if she could participate. She begged and pleaded and made those irresistible googly eyes at me as she presented her idea. She wanted to do face paintings for the girls as they arrived. When she told Brooke that she would have a red star, she was all for it. How could I say no?
Katie set up her shop in the den. She made a ‘menu’ of choices that the girls could choose from. She had two little chairs facing each other and a third grown-up sized chair perpendicular to the others. Just in case a mom or dad stays and wants to watch, Mama. The girls loved it.
Within short order, the singer settled in with her guitar and began to sing. The girls sat around her and watched. After a song or two, they joined in. They happily sang along to songs like “Sticky Sticky Bubble Gum.”
And “Yahoo, Cowgirl!”
And “I’m gonna get you; you’d better run!”
They danced together.
They wiggled and jiggled and laughed together.
They played tambourines.
They clapped and sang some more.
They curled themselves into little balls (well, maybe that was just Brooke).
And they did, um, this …
They devoured the cake that took Mama a really, really, really long time to make.
In short, they had FUN.
Yes, it’s a year later. We’ve learned last year’s lessons. There will plenty be more to come, no doubt. But for now, we’re twelve months smarter. Our toolbox is armed with a whole year’s worth of new tools. More importantly, so is Brooke’s.
One year ago, while holding my crying, shaking little girl in the den while her party went on without her, I never would have believed we would be here. Singing. Laughing. Dancing. ENGAGED. It is possible.
A happy new beginning indeed.
Happy birthday, my sweet girl. Mama loves you more than anything in the whole wide world.