E's birthday party was last weekend. In the days leading up to it she exuded a kind of serene anticipation, while her father basked indulgently in the Sea of the Blissfully Unaware and I teetered precariously on the brink of full blown neurotic hysteria, blanketed by only the sheerest wisp of surface calm and self control.
Now I could take you on a blow-by-blow through the week leading up to party day, detailing the myriad of potholes and near-misses, the agony and the ecstasy of it all, but instead I think we might all just benefit from a good glossing over:
It went spectacularly well, in my humble opinion.
The Toronto grandparents arrived on Friday evening, and treated us to a dip in their hotel pool before bedtime. E donned a stray lifejacket and proceeded to lead me through a hot/cold therapy flush, alternating between the pool and the hot tub with exuberance while the others languished in steamy relaxation. The rest of the evening was a flurry of chopping, wrapping, moving furniture and origami, followed by two pooped parents passing out on the couch.
The next morning we headed off to dance class, where we met the Kingston grandparents and watched E strut her stuff. She came out of the class announcing "Mama! We did retirés! Look!" My baby can retiré. I'm so proud.
And then it was party time! We whisked her home, whisked her into her party outfit, and waited patiently for the first arrivals. First there were our neighbours with their adorable son who will be one year old next week. Next on the doorstep were her friends C & C, whose mom I met in the park this summer when we bonded over being newcomers to Ottawa. A bit later a couple of hubby's old friends from high school arrived with their girls who are just about E's age. We ate pizza, we decorated butterflies, the kids mostly kept to themselves and allowed the parents to have grown-up conversations...mostly about our kids...and, of course, there were cupcakes. Rich, decadent brownie cupcakes with candy bugs on top. I've been dying to make these cupcakes since I saw them online while looking for ideas for E's first birthday cake. Now that I can be relatively confident that she won't choke to death on a jelly bean, I was excited to finally put it to use. I think it was a hit.
There were no meltdowns, no tantrums, no fights and nothing was broken. E loved all of her presents and said thank you and didn't try to grab the burning candles. She has played with every toy she received and we've read each book. She didn't fly into a sugar-induced rage at naptime, and was happy to share a cupcake with mom and dad after dinner, instead of eating a whole one by herself. I did enjoy a couple of glasses of wine that night, but in the spirit of celebration rather than self-medication.
On Sunday the festivities continued with a skating party on the Rideau Canal. Mama, Dada, E and the Kingston grandparents all experienced skating on the world's longest skating rink for the first time, although E spent most of her time being pushed by Grandpa, and we enjoyed BeaverTails and hot chocolate as rewards for our efforts.
Yep, the weekend was a big success. E enjoyed turning 3 and her biggest fans enjoyed watching her. We kept worrying about whether she would want all of her school friends, or whether she would want to go somewhere expensive or whether she would get overwhelmed and not enjoy herself. But in the end, we were chilled out and so was she. I think there's a connection there. As parties go, they are likely only going to get more complicated, but I'm glad that we were able to squeak out one more low-key affair before the lists of demands start coming in six months in advance. The only thing I'm concerned about now is her reaction when presents eventually stop showing up in the mailbox.
"A-nother present for me??!" *big smile*