I have set a precedent for myself last weekend.
Last weekend was 4th’s birthday. She is now a wonderful 8-years-old. Her birthday was on Saturday. Normally I work Saturdays, so I would naturally see her. But my friend was having a baby shower on Saturday, so I had told my boss I wouldn’t be in. This caused some “oooo you’re going to have to make up for that!” issues – which I knew I would be facing.
When I told 4th I would be missing her actual birthday, I made sure to phrase it in such a way that she had no time to speak and I gave her two options to make up for it. Friday was my day off, and I said we could either do something gross OR go out for dinner (taking an 8-year-old out for dinner is awesome! McDonalds, McFlurries, play place, and you’re done). Her choice. Being the wonderfully awesome little munchkin that she is, she obviously chose the gross one.
We carved pumpkins (she was actually grossed out and wouldn’t stick her hand inside so I had to do the ooey gooey part). And had mini cupcakes and hot chocolate (which she spilt all over the table and floor and her birthday card) and then she opened her present and I took her home. A nice hour of “we time”.
But 2nd and 3rd were kind of all “what are you doing?! Why can’t we come?! This isn’t fair! You didn’t do this for our birthday!” And it’s true. I didn’t. 4th and I had an AWESOME time just me and her. I really enjoyed being able to make some memories with her.
This Sunday is 1st’s birthday. She will be 13. 1st and I actually don’t spend a lot of time together. With her, I am supposed to be the friend, not the authority figure that I am with the other kids. Instead of telling her it’s bedtime, I nicely suggest “Ummm maybe don’t eat that jumbo muffin and a piece of cake instead of dinner?” Some of these suggestions she follows – some she doesn’t.
Since I had such a great time with 4th last Friday, I wanted to do something with 1st as well. But I’m not as connected with her so I asked her if she wanted some “we time”. She said, “I don’t know”. She is very withdrawn with me, very quiet. She’s opening up more and more but it’s a slow process.
I took matters into my own hands and asked her mom if I could take the car and her child for about an hour. I told her, without really telling her because it was a surprise for 1st, where we were going and she agreed once homework was done we could go.
1st was a little hesitant but after dropping some hints she got ready and we left. In the van driving there, silence. We get to the store, and her little face just lights up. Like I mean, I have never seen her so freaking happy. She put her nose up against the glass to follow a snake’s head around a tank, she sat on the floor to watch two Chinese water dragons run around their tank, wanting attention from her. She looked at every. single. tank. in that place. Some more than once! The store even had three HUGE tortoises that we could touch! That was pretty awesome. And the clerk took a baby one out of its tank and it was moving its cute little head to the bass of the music that was playing in the store. She left with a HUGE smile on her face.
I basically ran for the door when she was ready to go because I spent the whole time standing in the middle of the aisles trying not to get too close to any of the tanks, gripping the strap to my bag as tightly as I could trying not to squeal from terror and embarrass her in public. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. But so rewarding.
Back in the car, we stopped for a Tim’s drink on the way home. And aside from a half whisper-mumble about what she wanted, again dead silence the whole ride.
But guys – it was awesome. So fudge muffin awesome. Her mom was glad she didn’t have to step foot in a store like that, and I’m glad we had that bonding moment. I would have prefered to have it on my own time, but it was a last minute thing and I wanted to squeeze it in before her actual birthday.