It was our grand-daughter Mousey’s first birthday earlier this week. This afternoon was her party with the older members and friends of the family. As people arrived, she greeted them at the door dressed in her party frock and barefoot. She hates wearing shoes herself, however she was inordinately fascinated with the pile of shoes left at the door. I wonder if this means she has not inherited her mother and father’s fondness for shoes? Glasgow Girl must be related to Imelda Marcos: she is some distant shirt-tail Scottish relative of that Philipina politician. Renaissance Man loves shoes of the Fluevog kind – custom made and strangely fashionable looking. So far, their offspring, Mousey shows every indication of preferring to walk about unshod, while at the same time being squeamish about the sensation of different textures on the soles of her bare feet. The young parents express their dismay with this characteristic of their little daughter!
I was pleased to see the innocence with which Mousey considered her pile of gifts. She was most attentive to the varied patterned paper covering them. She paid close attention to the flouncy ribbons hanging from them and occupied herself pulling, stretching, crunching and tasting the multicoloured tendrils while the adults sipped wine and juice and sat chatting. Every so often she came over to me with her arms raised to be picked up, but after a few seconds of lap time she made her little body limp and slid back down to resume fiddling with the ribbons. I had wrapped her gift books in a highly coloured cat wrapping paper. Mousey studied the multi-coloured cat heads on the package, pointing to each and repeatedly uttering “kitty, kitty…”. She took this around with her to Rumpole and pointed out the kitties to him. The old softie was completely charmed by this!
Came time to open cards and presents. She wasn’t sure what to do, but once the cards were uncovered she took them one by one to her mother and dropped them in her lap. She opened the present of a soft, funny sheep with mirrors on the bottom of its feet and plopped herself down on it and rolled around in a completely undignified fashion. Then she dragged it over to Rumpole and unceremoniously dumped it at his feet. Her aunt and cousin gave her horsey rain gear covered in galloping yellow ponies – a pink slicker with hood, pink rubber Wellies and umbrella. (This was a smart gift as it rains a great deal in our part of the world!) Mousey stood under the open umbrella, pointed to the ponies and repeatedly called out “Kitty, Kitty…”. Her aunt put the Wellies on her feet; she was having no part of footwear and kicked them off. (Come the winter rains, surely she will deign to wear them?)
She ignored the set of giant legos, but Rumpole and I busied ourselves constructing a tower that looked like a Jenga tower with blocks pulled out from it. “Cool!” said our niece, Mousey’s cousin. We decided that Jenga was going to be a good gift for Mousey later on, one we could all play together.
Mousey lost interest in the gifts and wandered off to the buffet, from where she snagged a piece of broccoli. She meandered around chewing on this, but didn’t make great headway in eating it with her five teeth. She followed her cousin about, fascinated by this other shorter person in the group. They see each other so seldom, so she was completely taken with her.
As far as birthday parties go, this was a short one. After something to drink and a quick cruise around the buffet inhaling crudites, brie, crackers and fruit, the adults decided, en mass, to leave. We drove to our house to recuperate from the festivities with strong cups of coffee. We sat, wilted, around the kitchen table and shared the fact that most of us may have only had one birthday party as children – and that these days children’s birthday parties are both ubiquitous and de rigeur. And excessive!