Birthday Party

            Today, Kaitlyn had her 4th birthday party. She isn’t quite four… her birthday is on Tuesday (try explaining that to her). But a little boy in her class has his 4th birthday this week, so we mommies decided to share a birthday party.

            Rather than fill someone’s house with 10 mess-making children, we elected to have the fete at a remote location. There’s a place here that’s sort of a mix between Chuck-e-Cheese and Frankie’s Fun House. But with bad food. It’s called elfi’s. As in elves. (I discovered that when I got there and saw elves painted all over the place. Then I was like “oh, like elves!”) There’s a giant climbing/sliding thingie and a little toddler area. Both have ball pits. Kaitlyn gave both a test run. She seemed to prefer the smaller one. I think because it was set up in such a way that you could stand on the sides, cling to the netting behind you, then plunge into the balls like a pool. The bigger area has a giant slide. It looked like a lot of fun. Kaitlyn really enjoyed it. There are also computers set up with games. We tried to avoid those. Computer games we can play at home (and in English to boot) There is a snack bar, but all we got from it was ice cream. We did that instead of cake. We didn’t want to pay the extra for their cake and figured they would frown upon an imported one.

            All the parents followed our request for no presents. The idea was just to share some fun with friends. I know, it’s idealistic of me to think that Kaitlyn will go through her childhood not expecting gifts at every turn, especially on a birthday. But I want her to learn that time spent with friends and family laughing and playing and having a good time is more valuable than anything someone can give you wrapped up in a box.

            We’ll have cake (and, yes, presents) next Tuesday on Kaitlyn’s actual birthday.

            It’s funny, this morning I was telling Kaitlyn how hard it is to believe that she’s almost four.

            A year ago, she was just starting to talk our ears off.

            Two years ago, she was running around our brand new house, oblivious to the fact that it would be the last birthday she’d share with her grandma.

            Three years ago, she was trying to walk on her own and determined to never switch from a bottle to a sippy cup.

            Four years ago, she was determined to never be born. At least, that’s how it felt to me! But when she did come into the world, she was the most beautiful baby I’d ever seen. And, instantly (once I got to see her), we shared the most amazing bond. Granted, it’s a bond she now abuses, refusing to go to bed (which she’s doing right now), arguing about everything and trying like crazy to assert her independence (mostly when it suits her. Get herself dressed? No way. Unless you’re going to the beach!)

            It’s hard to even begin to imagine the ways in which Kaitlyn has changed our lives over the last four… nearly five… years. We may not be living in France were it not for her. I was being courted by a news director for an executive producer job which had our general manager trying to figure out how to keep me in the company when I found out I was pregnant. That meant we were staying put. Which meant Bill stayed with Caterpillar… which meant he got this job in Grenoble. So it’s Kaitlyn’s fault. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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