Birthdays Require Remembering So Many Details

Even when I plan a special party for one of my kids, I stumble on some imperative detail. We have canceled almost as many friend birthday parties for baby girl as we have hosted (She employs epic sass when she forgets herself.). This year, we planned something special. Actually, my husband planned something special. He made the reservation and he text invitations. I gathered party favors and packed the bags for the kids. With two friends and her siblings, our baby was to celebrate her ninth birthday at The Great Wolf Lodge.

For two days, our girlie and two of her besties body surfed the wave pool and rode the tube slides. They had eyes bigger than their stomachs at the buffet, hosted magic shows in the curtains of the hotel room, played arcade games to win “unnecessary plastic objects” as Nanci Griffith sings in Love at the Five and Dime. Magically, they included her big brother with ease. Of course, there were moments that required problem solving like broken goggles and hunger close to dinner. However, the ease of the two day adventure cannot be over-stated. The kids were great.

Like all people, our little people have their idiosyncrasies. Our girlie’s particular hurdle is accepting that her vision of how things should happen won’t always match the way things occur. She had her hear set on enjoying each water slide with her friends at each moment she wanted to do so. Sometimes her friends wanted to do other slides, or have a break, or have a snack, or sit in the hot-tub. Our girlie had opportunities to learn the lesson of adjusting. She is still learning; for the record, so am I.

The girls watched a movie on the car ride home. We delivered one child safely to her house and parents picked up the other from our home. Birthday calls from grand parents and an uncle came in while I dug through the kitchen drawers for candles. We had no birthday candles in the house. While at The Great Wolf Lodge, the kids celebrated with gifts and ice cream. At home, I knew though pie was the requested treat, candles would be required.

I found a 4 and a 6 from prior celebrations. Really? I could remember party favors of bubble gum, socks with personality, special play putty, and candy, but not candles for the family celebration? I could sneak away from early soccer warm up to get extra goggles and be back in time for the game to start. I just couldn’t quite get all the pieces together at the same time for the family birthday celebration.

The Franken-Candle.

Thankfully, I am a little creative. I could see the 9 in the six. So I cut off the wax anchor from the base and found a toothpick to place in the top as a wick.

Did our child notice? Yes. I believe her words were, “A toothpick, really?” She was still excited to light it. She wielded the torch like a pro. She took her time while she made her wish and she made the sweetest face as she blew out that cobbled-together birthday candle.

Perhaps all the little disappointments I present to my kids will prepare them to handle the big disappointments that inevitably arrive with grace and humor. When I text the candle fail and solution to my BFF, her response was, “Oh, hell yes!” Maybe I’m teaching my kids to find creative solutions. Maybe I’m teaching them to accept love rather than expect perfection. Maybe I’m teaching them to plan better than their Mama plans for all varieties of situations.

Whether they emulate my solution scrambles or find their way to organized plans that work out to the number, I’ll applaud them. My husband comforts me with this comment, “Perfection is boring.” While those words are kind, he is an accountant. His work is all about perfection. I’m lucky his personal life is full of flexibility and acceptance.

If you’re a JV Mom, like me, feel free to carve up a candle. Maybe you light nine toothpicks. Maybe you find nine tapers, or one taper and you sharpie the number 9 on it. What matters is that you do it for the love of that baby.

Do your best and offer it with love — your love is always more important than perfection.

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