Two revelations surprise me every time one of my children has a birthday. One, I actually do not care about my birthday anymore. Much. Two, every year the prospect of their birthdays gets more exciting.
Talitha turned four on Thursday and I did the usual getting teary-eyed while wrapping her presents the night before. How could she be turning four already? I still so clearly remember giving birth to her.
And now we’re having full-on conversations. My days are full of her chatter. She’s busy dancing, making up stories, singing to herself, balancing on things, zipping off on her scooter, drawing, experimenting, trying to read and write. She would even have started school this September if we’d applied.
Laurence came back for the birthday and we made use of our National Trust membership by visiting Dyrham Park near Bath. I’d just been complaining about how Summer just wasn’t kicking in when the sun finally came out. In fact, we should probably have taken hats and sunblock!
We walked down to the house to have lunch in their tea room. Along the way, while we stopped to talk about something, we suddenly noticed a group of fauns just a little way from us. It was so unexpected. They didn’t seem at all bothered by our presence or attention. Talitha decided that one of them would be Bambi.
Then we went up to the play area where the girls mostly entertained themselves, driving tractors (toy and real), sweeping wood chips, climbing and pushing wheelbarrows. We pretty much hung back and chatted for an hour while they played together with the run of the place to themselves.
Sufficiently sunned out we wandered up through the trees to the car and ended a happy day with a polenta lemon birthday cake when we got home.
On Saturday we had a birthday party as she’d requested. I kept it small because I’m finding even little things a bit overwhelming at the moment. I still managed to get stressed anyway. Talitha put things firmly in perspective for me by randomly repeating, “I loved my party!” for the rest of the weekend.
She wanted an Octonauts/Under the Sea/Pirate party so we vaguely colour-themed it with a blue table cloth and blue balloons. I put together an ocean-themed water beads sensory box inspired by The Imagination Tree, which was a real hit with all ages.
I tried to make a foil and tissue paper fish-shaped piñata but it turned out to be a bit of a soft, floppy fail! Never mind, the kids loved taking turns picking it up and throwing it on the floor til it cracked open and the felt tipped pens the bags of popcorn were revealed.
My brother and his wife made a double-layered lemon polenta cake, covered in blue dairy-free “buttercream” icing and we decorated it with a couple of Octonauts gup figurines from a magazine and some sea life toys from a Bristol Aquarium visit.
My brother also made these amazing watermelon fruit salad sharks! Talitha spotted them some time when I was browsing Pinterest and asked me to make one for her party and I said, “No way!” She’s lucky her uncle is nicer (and more patient) than I am.
Ophelia fell asleep on my brother while the party was still going
Thank you to everyone who helped us celebrate – those both present and far away. We feel truly held by you and nourished by your care for us. Some of you, we feel like we’re still only just getting to know and look forward to going deeper in our friendship with you.
These four years. It all went by before I was ready. Where did this powerful, imaginative, happy girl come from?