Sunday, August 26, 2012
Happy Birthday, Abby!
And then it did. And just like that, my firstborn is five.
She wanted to invite five friends, since she's five. One, we knew, would not be able to make the drive from Virginia, but I promised her we'd call her later and she could tell Abby Mae all about her birthday party.
Up until a few weeks ago, she was insisting on a repeat of last year's Frog and Mashed Potato party. And then somewhere the idea of birthday scones came up, so we settled on hosting a birthday brunch and tea for our little girl and her giggly friends. At the very last minute, she informed me I did not have to make froggy cupcakes, and I breathed a sigh of relief. I got off easy this year with pink frosting and pink sparkly sprinkles.
A gaggle of four and five-year-old girls in bows and ruffles ran wild through my house for an hour and a half on Saturday morning. We decorated picture frames for each of the girls to take home (it will be a while before I get all the glitter off of my floor and my children), we drank pink lemonade "tea" out of real teacups, munched on birthday scones (with sprinkles, of course) and ate those pink cupcakes the birthday girl insisted on. We had only a few tears when a misunderstanding over the meaning of being It in a game of hide-and-seek led one little girl to believe that no one wanted to play with her. Once that crisis was averted, the girls played happily together, running around and squealing at a pitch only attainable by a group of young girls until their moms came to rescue them.
There were no boys allowed at this party, with the exception of little baby brothers, Abby told me. "They need their mommies, so it's okay if Levi and Neely's little brother want to come," she informed me. This worked out well, as it seems the only thing little girls love as much as glitter and squealing are little babies, and the two boys in attendance at the party were happily doted on for quite a while.
Later, the family paparazzi descended on our house for a celebratory pizza dinner, and to help us finish off those cupcakes.
"Since I'm five, I can fit a whole cupcake in my mouth at one time," Abby told the grandparents and aunt and uncle in attendance. Then she demonstrated this skill for us, and I reminded her that five year old girls could perhaps eat a little more politely. And by politely, I meant don't shove an entire pink cupcake in your mouth at one time. But it was kind of impressive.
The morning of her birthday was spent with her dad at their traditional Daddy-Daughter birthday breakfast. Last year she laid out some goals for her fifth year of life while they were on this date. This year, we get to celebrate that she's met them.
At five, she can read. And I don't mean she can read a little. She can read a lot. A lot more than I ever thought possible for a kindergartner. Her self-motivating personality is well-suited to the task of learning to read, and she devours any and every book she finds. Most recently, she sat down with her children's encyclopedia and told me after about 20 minutes that it was her favorite book, because it had vortexes and planets and reptiles in it. A few days ago, I caught her reading the first chapter of Genesis in her pink New Living Translation Bible. She still asks for help with big words, but mostly she loves to solve her own problems, so she'll power through a new book by carefully sounding out any words that are unfamiliar to her. This is opening up whole new worlds to her as she enjoys the books that I've been reading to her for years on her own through fresh eyes.
At five, she can swim. Swimming lessons have been a bit of a challenge for her, largely due to her intense fear of failure. But with a careful teacher, she's thriving. She can swim almost the entire length of the pool by herself without stopping, and is totally comfortable in the water unassisted. Her instructor tells me she's probably just a few weeks away from moving up to the next level in her swim class.
At five, she could ride a bike. If she wanted to. Abby and her dad have practiced, practiced, practiced riding her pink bike without the training wheels. She's clocked more miles around our cul-de-sac on two wheels than I can count. But balancing and pedaling at the same time is hard work. And she's just not that into it. When the training wheels are off, she is a fantastic bike rider. She can pedal up and down our street with the best of 'em. I'm amazed at how well she can ride. But she's not convinced yet. And until she has the level of confidence in her bike-riding ability that her dad and I do, she simply will not do it. This is true for a lot of things in her life, and it's the downside of being a perfectionist. So she'll continue to split her time between training wheels and no training wheels, and one of these days she'll decide she's comfortable leaving the little wheels off for good. It happened with potty training, handwriting, reading and swimming. She'll do it, but it will be on her terms and in her timing.
At five, she is goofy. She dances (if you can call it that) with the total freedom and lack of coordination that makes kids so adorable. She sings loudly and cheerfully and often. She is driven, and idealistic, and very easy to please. She still loves frogs, and pink, and ballet and playing dress up. But she's a half-decade old now, and the little girl things she's always enjoyed are taking on a different shape now. She wants to learn about frogs--what they eat, where they live, how many different kinds there are. She wants to write with pink--letters to friends far away, notes for daddy to take to work. She wants to learn to be a big girl ballerina, like the girls down the street, and is willing to practice and stretch and even wear a blue leotard instead of a white one if that's what it takes to be really good at it. And she doesn't just play dress-up like she once did. There are elaborate stories and adventures to be lived out and characters to be developed with each costume change.
In keeping with our goal-setting trend, I asked her to set a few for this upcoming year. Before she turns six, Abby would like to learn to tie her shoes and be able to locate all the countries on the map. (I'll settle for just a few major countries.)
We have 364 days to do it. She's already started counting down.