We are still recovering from the birthday party of all birthday parties.
It was a child’s birthday party. There were no pony rides, hired clowns or professional party planners. It was the birthday girl who put it over the top, the one turning 4 at a full throttle.
We thought it was going to be the usual-a few presents, some candles on a sloping cake accompanied by an off-key round of “Happy Birthday,” followed by a sugar surge.
We were wrong.
The second we entered the house, her older sister whispered in my ear, “She’s been in trouble ever since she woke up. It’s been a rough morning.” When a 5-year-old says it’s been a rough morning, you know it’s been a rough morning.
A flash of purple shot through the room. It was the birthday girl blasting up the stairs, down the stairs, rocketing out the front door and back in again. She hurdled her baby sister in a single bound and somersaulted across the floor, yelling, “It’s my happy birthday!”
I regretted not having a lid for my coffee. And a padded suit.
In post-party analysis, the husband says it was to be expected. She’d witnessed a string of birthdays for others all summer long. At each and every celebration she was front and center when it was time to blow out candles, her little face wedged beneath another kid’s armpit waiting and longing for when it would be her turn to be center stage.
Time after time, she watched as someone else opened the gifts and someone else blew out the candles. She’d bottled it, suppressed it, contained it, then she woke up, knew she was 4 and simply exploded like spring coils bursting open from a closed can.
They corralled her to open gifts, which is when the falling unicorns began. She loves unicorns. She opened a unicorn beach towel, shrieked with delight and threw it toward the ceiling.
She ripped open a large box containing a stuffed unicorn, squealed, and hurled it skyward. A unicorn nightgown was launched, followed by a unicorn headband.
“Heads up!” people yelled.
“Incoming unicorns!” others screamed.
Baby unicorns ricocheted off the ceiling.
“Somebody cut the ceiling fan!”
She bolted toward a straight back chair, climbed on top of it and began jumping up and down.
“Do you want to go to the ER on your birthday?” someone snapped.
Depends. Does the ER have unicorns?
She made a beeline to the table and stared at the candles on her unicorn cake. If intensity alone could have ignited them, they would have been shooting giant flames. She momentarily stood still while the candles were lit. Poof! The candles were out and she was off again with a jet stream trailing behind her.
We heard that Flash began sputtering around 7 that evening and was out soon after. It was such a memorable celebration we may start a family tradition of throwing gifts in the air.
Lori Borgman is a columnist, author and speaker. Her new book, “What Happens at Grandma’s Stays at Grandma’s” is now available. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org