It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. It was Megan's 8th birthday.
I thought it started out fine. She woke up. She opened her presents before eating breakfast. Henry came home at lunch, and rather than make her wait for evening, we let her blow out the candles and eat some birthday cake right then and there. I took her shopping so she could blow through the birthday money she'd received that week. I mean, what else could she want, right?
Well, that night she sat next to me on the couch (while I was taking a much deserved Facebook break after cleaning all afternoon in preparation for her party the next day.)
Megan: Today didn't really feel like my birthday.
Me: And why is that?
Megan: Well, you didn't let me play with my friends ...
Me: I said 'No' to Nikki coming over because it was your birthday and I wanted it to be family only. You've played together every day this summer.
Megan: AND you wouldn't let me go swimming ...
Me: That's because after taking you shopping, I had to start cleaning the house for YOUR party tomorrow. I couldn't watch you swim and clean at the same time.
Megan: AND you wouldn't let me play with my toys ...
Me: If you're talking about the DQ Blizzard Machine, I told you I could help you with it after I was done cleaning the house, AND making cupcakes for your party tomorrow. I also told you that if you'd rather I help you with the Blizzard Machine right then, I could skip making the cupcakes, but you said you wanted them. So we'll have to wait until tomorrow to make the Blizzards. I'm sorry you haven't liked your birthday, but I've done all I can do to make it a good one.
I found it interesting that she didn't mention the 30 minutes she had to spend in her room for being defiant to me earlier. Now there's a happy birthday moment.
Megan left. I turned off the computer, too irritated to continue and began the daunting task of cleaning her room. My last "gift" to her would hopefully be a tidy room that she would be comfortable showing her friends the next day at her party. She'd received new zebra bedding as a gift, and was quite excited with it. I, however, didn't feel it was very well showcased when surrounded by mounds of junk on her dresser and headboard.
I don't remember what time I started cleaning her room, but I do remember that it was 10:30 PM when I finished (and I still hadn't started on the cupcakes!)
Meg walked in and gasped at the beautiful organization.
Megan: Wow, Mom. You did good.
That night Megan's prayer began like this ...
"Dear Jesus, thank you for a WONDERFUL BIRTHDAY today" (pause) I looked up at her face to see her nodding her head as if to convey that my final "gift" had saved the day.
I smiled and closed my eyes, trying not to fall asleep during the rest of her prayer, from total exhaustion. Birthdays wear me out.