Sunday, March 4, 2007

The birthday payoffs

After all my blogging in the run-up to it, Z.'s birthday was a lovely day. It seems eclipsed by chaos and carnival now (more on which in another post), but I can work myself back there, I think.

She woke up early, before A. left for work, so A. was able to give her a happy birthday hug and kiss before the day started. We had decided on two presents she could open before school--a little fire truck to feel "birthday" ish and a bracelet because it might have been added to her Purim (observed) costume. The bracelet was a dud, but the fire truck was a hit. She adored it absolutely (as did I--I think it's an intensely smart design) and played with it so much that despite being up early she was later to school than she had been all week (still: we at least made it there by snack every day but Monday last week.)

We came downstairs to a beautiful Happy Birthday sign A. made with paper from Z.'s easel, taped to the glass of our front door at Z. eye level. Happy Birthday was in many colors, Z.'s name was in purple, and there was a heart, a star, and a smiley face. Wow! Uncle B. and Aunt S.E called with birthday wishes at breakfast time, a super-special treat.

Z. went off to school in the most purplest of the purple clothing she owns, clutching the fire truck. Z.'s leaving-the-house ritual these days requires both binky and toy-from-home. The toy from home varies and is handed over to a teacher just after arrival at the door of the class (the binky is handed to me just outside the door along with her jacket). This seems to me to be a more literal meaning of transitional object than is usually understood, but it does work to get her out of the house with less drama, which means faster.

I picked Z. up early to get in a couple of errands before the big day of grandparents began--at 2:45 instead of 4:00. I thought I would arrive after her nap (her school nap is woefully short compared to her home nap--this is one of the reasons why she stays home more often than is perhaps ideal). Instead, she was still asleep and needed to be woken. She came into the classroom bleary and still in the sleep zone. She didn't take in that I was there at first and when she did she was weepy and clingy--her teachers were surprised she was so sad, confirming my belief that she usually puts on a better front for them than for me. No surprise, I'm sure.

But once she got it together to get onto the changing table for a diaper check, she turned out to be dry. This led to a trip with me to the school potty. The school potty is scary since it is a preschool-sized real toilet, too big for even a fairly tall two-year-old like Z. To sit on it she kind of perches at the far front edge, and even that is an accomplishment won after a few tearful acclimation visits. Recently she has attached herself to a book from the rack in the hall that we only read on the potty: suitably, it's called "All By Myself." I thought all these potty reward things--stars and stickers and whatever--were a bad idea but we have inevitably evolved our own reward system of books. It has been the one thing that's made any progress possible at school.

And, on her birthday, she peed on the potty at school for the first time! Hooray for two!

By the time we got home after our errands she had acquired a purple mouse and pirate hat courtesy of pushover Mama, and a flamingo bead from the nice bead store lady. (How to make a pirate hat from a quilting quarter: tie a knot in each corner.) Mommy was home when we arrived, so we opened the rest of the Mama and Mommy presents at snack time--a smallish purple playground ball with pink spots, a barrette and a bunch of hair clips from CVS, a pull-toy clown, two pairs of pants that happened to arrive the day before her birthday so I wrapped them but Z. was not fooled, and finally the thing she asked for, Stacrobats! These are like the fire truck in that they are even more fun in person than you think they would be from seeing pictures. None of us could stop playing with them and, since they are magnetized, introducing the hair clips into the equation meant additional hilarity.

There were more birthday phone calls, from Aunt. O. and Aunt N. and grandparents and friends. Z. loved the fuss and attention, and I liked watching her being happy. A. said that I had made good birthday ruach for her, which I thought was a lovely compliment. I had fun making a good birthday, but even if it's fun work you still like it when someone notices that you're doing good work.

I'm going to stop writing before I get to the arrival of the grandparents, because I do need to get to sleep. Part II tomorrow!

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