This year felt different. It may have been a new maturity level when acknowledging her birthday, this year over last. I mean, she is a whole year older, after all. But it's easy sometimes to forget, being as unbelievably old as I am now, how vast the gap is in between ages, especially in those young, formative years. Of course it also may have felt different because it was the first time in 4 years that her birthday actually fell on a school day.
The day started off with me really talking up the birthday thing. Really reinforcing that she's six now, a really big girl, what a fantastic day, let's go open some presents... Funny, usually she's a little resistant in the mornings, prefering to stay and play in her room over going downstairs for breakfast and getting ready for school. *gasp* Even funnier what kind of reaction you get when you tell a child that there are presents waiting for her downstairs. Then watch how fast and compliant she is!
She opened a few presents from us and from some far-away family members, oohing and ahhing as she opened a hand-knit sweater, a puzzle, and several books, extra-excited about the Matchbox car track with a loop-de-loop Steve had set up in the middle of the living room floor during the night while she slept. We told her there would be one more present when I got home from work, and that it was a surprise. Arriving at school a short time later, she was greeted with a card from the women in the front office, women who we visit each and every morning, spreading sunshine and receiving it in return, who set the tone for the school day ahead, then a gift and a card from her resource teachers, who I'd love to completely gush about, but since they read this I don't want it to sound like I'm putting it on, even though it would all be completely accurate and true.
Yesterday evening, I brought 6 drop-dead-delicious mini-cupcakes home from a cafe near my office, lighting them for the birthday girl to blow out. Never, in her 6 birthdays, has she blown out her own candles. The first year she didn't know how. When she was two, she never even got the chance, as another child attending the party pushed past her and blew them out himself. At 3 she refused, so Daddy did it for her. At 4, it was too breezy and we had to keep it quick, so again, she didn't get the opportunity. At 5 she cried when everyone sang "happy birthday" so Daddy again did the honors. I wanted her to have the chance this time, no pressure, no crowd, no wind, no nothing.
And she did it perfectly.
On Saturday we're going to request that people whisper the Happy Birthday song.
And, as promised, the last present...
Steve led Samantha down to the basement play area, asking her to keep her eyes closed and holding his hands over her eyes to keep our curious girl from peeking.
The look on her face here says it all.