It was a fun birthday. It was the first birthday where she got what was going on. “On my birthday, everyone will sing happy birthday to ME!” she declared. This first birthday where she anticipated it with excitement and joy. The Germans say vorfreude. They have a word for everything.
She woke up and crawled into our bed, where Josh and I sang her “Happy Birthday”. By the end of the day, she had heard it a dozen times. She came into the living room to a pile of presents and she set to work. Deftly tearing up the paper and declaring her loot: “OH! A BOOK!” and “OH! A BATHTUB FOR MY DOLLS.” Though not always in English. And not always sticking to one language per sentence.
We made a stack of pancakes. Fielded phone calls. Luisa is of the Skype generation. She gets on a phone and just nods. It doesn’t work that way, we tell her. She just keeps nodding.
She spent the day playing with her presents, checking in with me in the kitchen, telling me “Mama, I’m having fun in my house!” Good, I say, because I have lots to do before her friends come over.
I failed at marshmallow icing. But I had everything I needed for my tried and true chocolate fudge icing. I was one egg short, but my neighbour owed me two, so now she only owes me one. Luisa had a ball on Saturday’s trip to the grocery store, where I told her she could pick out three candies to share with her friends. Gummy bears, yellow-pink marshmallows, Kinder chocolates. They covered the table. We strung balloons all around.
Mateo was a child of neglect. He’s not used to playing second fiddle for so much of the day. He was always pulling on my pants, wanting to see what the KitchenAid was mixing up this time.
But the friends came. With more presents. And they played and played and played. And when the last friend turned up, we hurried everyone around the table for the loudest round of HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOUUUUUUU of the day. Her face was priceless.
It was the first year she successfully blew out candles all on her own. All three of them.
Friends lingered as the afternoon turned into evening.
As the last goodbyes were said, we did a hasty clean up and a quick stir fry. Mateo conked out before dinner could be finished, and so us three, Josh, Luisa, and myself, sat at the couch for stir fry and a Winnie the Pooh movie.
She went to bed and crashed.
This morning she asked if it was still her birthday. I said, no, today it was someone else’s turn.
But as I brought her into Kita this morning, her little mates came into the boot room cheering. “LUISA HAT HEUTE GEBURTSTAG!” as they all jumped up and down.
I left her there, just as they started singing Happy Birthday to her.
Fool-proof chocolate fudge icing
1/3 cup butter (75 grams)
1/4 cup heavy cream (65 ml)
200 grams dark chocolate
Melt all together on low heat, stirring occasionally. Let cool completely. Pour into a mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer. Whip until light and fluffy and spread onto a cooled cake.
Makes enough for one two layer cake, plus a little extra to lick from the bowl.