Little Friend gave me a birthday present this morning as she wandered out of her bedroom, footsteps still dragging in the sands of sleep and tousled hair stuck to eye gunk and lips.
“Here Mama. This is for you. Let’s play catch!”
My birthday present had slept with her. Cause that’s the kind of gift-giver she is.
“It’s a butterfly. And it has an earring. And look at these! Do you know what these are? These are wings!”
Later, once I had grabbed my camera, someone was a little grumpy about having her picture taken. I’ll give you a hint on who: that butterfly has a pretty smarmy grin, so probably not her…
I wasn’t exactly surprised by the birthday gift. Yesterday’s conversation went something like this:
“Hey Mama. Is it your birthday today? I have a present for you!”
“Actually, my birthday is tomorrow.”
“No. It’s today.”
“Well, no…It’s kinda tomorrow.”
“Like after my nap?”
“No! I want it to be your pretend birthday today! I’m going to get you a present. It’s a bouncy ball!”
So, no. No surprises here.
We’re in a riotous season of Little Friend’s life. What began with her third birthday early in December bled into Christmas, which smacks right up against my birthday, and then, joy of joys, trips along to Big Friend’s big day at the end of January.
Everything important on Little Friend’s birthday as become important on my birthday:
A candle in every meal, snack, and cake of the day? Check.
So this morning, Little Friend insisted that Big Friend add two candles to my birthday breakfast of French toast. Then she sang to me: “Happy Birthday to Ooou, Happy Birthday to Ooou, Happy Birthday to Ooou. Now blow out your candles, Mama!”
Big Friend was reprimanded for not providing me with birthday balloons.
Because Little Friend had balloons galore.
And she insisted she could blow up her own balloons.
But that didn’t stop her from insisting she could.
The only thing I’m missing from my birthday so far is the highlight of Little Friend’s special day: yellow rubber dish gloves. No, really. They were one of the best presents she received. She even wore them while devouring her cupcake. “Hey! I’m wearing gloves! Now I don’t have to wash my hands.”
Later the gloves transferred to feet and she became a duck. Who knew dish gloves could be Dora’s sidekick, Boots? Or a baby? Or a container for rubber bands? Or a home for a family of play dough snails?
Yup. That’s my kid. And I adore the guts and stuffing out of her!
I haven’t yet opened a single present this birthday (’cause I can’t count one that someone else has pretty much claimed as her own), but I can’t help feeling like the best presents were the grin Big Friend flashed me as the first worlds I heard this morning from his mouth were “Happy Birthday, B!” or Little Friend padding from her room calling, “Mama? Mama? Where are oou? I got something for oou!”
Maybe this year I’m just a bit more sensitive to the miracle of a birth-day. Those of you who have loved and lost someone tiny can probably relate–life can so quickly, effortlessly, breathlessly, and lightly disappear. Each and every day, especially those on which a birth (life!) occurs, is more precious than all that buried treasure Dora the Explorer uncovers.
I’m poignantly reminded of some of the most wrenching lines from Arthur Miller’s play, The Crucible, when Reverend Hale cries, “Life, woman. Life is God’s most precious gift.” And I think of Jesus’s own awareness of His life’s purpose: “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10, KJV). Life, an abundant life, is more valuable than all the bouncy balls and squishy butterflies in the world.
Although, I’m pretty psyched with this present. And its giver.
So, dear readers and friends, may I wish you today, whether this is your pretend birthday or your actual birthday, “Happy Birthday to Oou!” You are precious, and I’m glad you’re reading and celebrating Life with me today.