It was the fastest six seconds of our lives. First she was there, then blink and she's one. By the time we catch our breath we blink and Nugget is two, then three...four...five.
We blinked again today and now she is six. Six! I know how it happens from a biological and chronological point of view but it is still hard to wrap my head around.
Nugget is six. She is in senior infants. She is donating her hair to wig shops for kids with no hair and raising money in the process. She is attending large parties with her peers and has more friends now than I have contacts in my phone. She is smart and weird, strong and scared, bored and brilliant all rolled into one. She has a hobby collecting hobbies, but she never forgets which hobby is the current favourite.
The ladyfriend put together a little collage of pictures from Nugget's six years (SIX!) on the planet. You don't notice the changes daily, they slowly happen. The round head has hair, the cheeks are less chubby, the smile more sly when it has to be. But looking at the pictures the changes are evolutionary. Leaps and bounds, moments captured in time that has gone by so quickly.
I'm starting to think I should pop toothpicks under my eyelids to stop blinking and not risk her being seven before I get to sleep tonight.
Since we couldn't really do anything last year, this year we broke our 'No kids parties in the house' rule and let her ask around a small group of her school friends. It was utter carnage. Between bouncy castle fun, toy arguements, sugar highs and lows, the chaos gods themselves would have wondered what was going on.
But when the dust had settled, the last fanta filled fucker sent back to their home, and Nugget was getting tucked into bed we got our reward.
"Best birthday ever," she said, wrapping her arms around our necks and squeezing with all her might.
Sure isn't that what we do it for in the end really.
I've noticed that this blog has basically become a 'birthday posting' blog - and that's fine if I'm being honest.
Today marked a strange one in our house. Our youngest, code-name Jellybean, turned three.
Normally birthdays for kids are marked with family gatherings, few friends of the family and kids around, sugary goodness and presents if you're lucky. Last year that's exactly what happened, with the man of the hour going comatose nearly two hours before bed from all the sweets. And as usual the ladyfriend pulled out all the stops with decorating and making sure the day was memorable.
This year, because of the fundemic (it only really sucks if you allow it to, by not making fun of it) the celebrations were a little more muted.
For starters, there were no extra people in the house beyond those who live there.
Did it suck? No, if I'm being honest. Jellybean came down in the morning to see his presents from us all lined up waiting (he thought they came from Santa...because he hasn't fully figured out how gifts work just yet). The ladyfriend has, from birthday one, made a huge deal about helium balloons being part of the kid celebrations, so this day was no different. Balloons everywhere. PJ Masks, Spiderman and a bunch of just normal shaped balloons. For Jellybean this was, in his own words, 'Awesome'.
See while the list of attendees may have been smaller, the ladyfriend didn't let that stop her pulling out all the tricks in her bag. We had cake for lunch, music for breakfast entertainment, balloons a plenty and some very happy and screaming kids as the day went on. Both of us booked off work as well and with Jellybean having full control of the TV (for him being in charge of the entertainment is basically heaven) the best of a bad situation was pulled off.
Now I don't claim any of the credit for this...I am but a grunt in the war against crappy birthdays. The ladyfriend points and I put the balloon where she pointed. Jellybean conked a full hour before normal bed time - a sign of a successful birthday.
Did it suck that we couldn't have family around, sure...but when life throws her lemons the ladyfriend makes Hard Lemonade with two fingers to the sky.
At this point I'm fairly sure I only keep this place online still to make these posts about the kids birthdays. But sure what's the harm in having an eccentric hobby in my old age? I could have much worse ones.
Here we are, Nugget's fifth birthday. A birthday with a difference for many reasons.
Reason the first being that this is our first time having a birthday with a Big Schooler (as she likes to call herself). That's right, a mere ten days ago our little lady went from being in Montessori to being in junior infants. A day that had only one person crying from the family, and it wasn't me or the kid I can tell you that. In she went to start that grand journey of education, making new friends and expanding her little world a bit.
A world that had been greatly reduced because of the second reason this birthday was so different: COVID-19.
I've purposely stay away from posting about our time during the pandemic here because I didn't see the point. It's going to be sucky and hard for everyone and capturing the memories of the last few months is just something that didn't seem worth doing. But now I have to because this pandemic impact Nugget's birthday.
Usually the ladyfriend makes a big deal about birthdays, particularly those that are for our kids. She likes to get cakes, decorations, sweets and sugary drinks while asking over family and friends. The last few years Nugget has even had friends invited along to the event because her little social circle extended beyond the four walls. But with the lockdown and restrictions this birthday was different.
For starters it couldn't be in the house, because of the amount of people you can have indoors at a gathering. Which meant we had to find an outdoor location. Luckily there is a lovely spot near the house that has benches and allows for you to BBQ. But then we had to wonder about the number of people. Even outdoors we couldn't go too large in terms of a crowd.
It ended up being the four of us, some grandparents (the parentals of us - not just random grandparents we found) and the godparents.
All of which didn't bother Nugget one bit. See she just loves people and loves fun and all those people are fun for her, so she had fun. She ate cake and sweets and ran around and got some presents and took some photos all while dressed up in her fairy outfit that she wanted.
For her there was no such thing as COVID-19 ruining her fun, the fun was there to be had and we all just had to join in with her.
After food we went for walk through the woods so Nugget could try out her new bike and sadly get stung by a wasp in the nose. It was a harrowing experience for her to be sure, full of screaming and us trying to sooth her and help with the sting and pain.
The big five year old instantly became a little baby again and wanted daddy to carry her back to the car since the day was basically over anyway. Daddy dutifully did this because, as the ladyfriend is fond of saying, there will come a point in time were I won't get asked to carry Nugget anymore and I won't know when the last time actually is until it is a distant memory.
Back at the car the tears had stopped, the pain lessened, the fear of her being allergic gone as the little lump on her nose formed. Yet still, despite this painful end to her big day she looked up at both of us and said "Best day ever!".
There is a lesson in there for everyone, I feel. That you can be going through a pandemic, not see your friends and family as much as you want and get stung in the face by Nature itself and still see the rainbow amongst the shitty storm clouds.
If a five year old can point that out to us adult types then I reckon it's a lesson worth paying attention to.
We got home, had some cuddles on the sofa, then off to bed where she declared again that it was the "Best day ever!".
Kid, five years ago was when the best day ever started for us. They just keep getting better.