Events in our house like birthdays and Christmas are something I’ve begun watching the past year or so – mostly since I became aware of how randomly and easily “family traditions” can spontaneously begin. We had ways of doing things when I was little – not hard and fast rules, just a certain order important occasions would usually take place in, and it’s become obvious that a similar thing is happening with Millie and Amber, too.
So today – Millie’s fifth birthday – I was looking out for the genesis of any traditions. Not in a creepy way (it’s not a private science project or anything) – just to see if I could spot them as they appear. Today was a school day, however, so there was never any real likelihood of anything out of the routine occurring. I sang “Happy Birthday” to Millie when she got up and was hoping that Hooby might join in, but she just watched with a half-horrified half-amazed expression as I sang, never seriously looking like adding to the chorus.
We didn’t even open any presents or cards this morning, sad to say. Millie didn’t seem to mind too much though, and everybody trooped off happily to school and nursery. We were slightly early after dropping Hooby off at nursery so ‘Lays and I were able to take our time walking to the station and she got to walk along the top of as many walls as she liked. Usually we have to hurry and she can only walk along the walls by Sidcup station. Today, though, we got to hang around on the bridge watching the trains go by underneath and read some of the newspaper, too, so all of these were my private presents for Millie. 🙂
I was worked at home today so was able to pop to the shops and buy a couple of helium balloons which I tied outside the house for when Millie came home. Bloody hell, kids love helium balloons, don’t they?? They love ’em! Such things were a real novelty when I was little, but despite being two-a-penny nowadays (well, £2.99, actually) our two still love them. Even Hooby – who’s been scared of balloons since one my dad blew up made a scary noise – loved them today, carrying it around the house and getting quite upset when a gust of wind wafted hers into the kitchen and then blew the door shut.
Despite being blase about her birthday in the morning she began to get understandably impatient waiting for the Lovely Melanie to get home with Hooby so we could finally open cards and presents after school. Both girls were exhausted by bedtime, especially after putting on The Lay-Lays and Hooby Show on video calls with grandparents from both sides of the family!
It’s getting late now so there’s no time for any great insights here, except to note once again how wonderful it is to see our kids utterly overwhelmed with excitement at their presents. Even – again – Hooby, who got a little water bottle and hair-clips both with Hello Kitty on them and nearly burst a blood vessel she was so pleased.
Millie loved simple little things like the doorbell for her bedroom door and the lightsaber I bought off eBay, but she especially loved the tickets to see Mama Mia at the theatre. It’s almost a shame she’s not going until August, as she’ll inevitably forget (although, every time she remembers once more she’ll probably be just as excited all over again!)
And so our big girl is now five years old, and those memories I have of seeing her in the incubator for the first time and being told not to get my hopes up are slowly beginning to fade; my recollections of spending endless evenings in the hospital, they’re slowly softening at the edges… In a few more years I may struggle to remember what those weeks and months back in 2005 were really like.
At the time it seemed impossible to imagine this happening, caught up as we were in the adrenaline and desperation of it all, but time is not so much a great healer as a great softener of memories, and I can sense mine becoming ever more blurred as the years go by.