The night before her 4th birthday was a total bust. The plan was that I would get her out of the house early on Saturday so that my husband and step-dad could assemble the new swing-set that her grandparents had gotten for her, then she would spend the night at their house so that we could surprise her on Sunday morning. Everything was going according to plan; Isla and I took off around 11:00 am to run some errands and grab lunch, then we hit her friend Hugo's birthday party around 2:00. A little after 5:00, we said our good-byes and headed over to grandmas.
About an hour after I got home, I got the call... "Isla has a fever and sore throat," my mother informed. "I don't have anything here to give her and I'm not sure what you want me to do." <Deep breath> "I'll be over as soon as I can." "That's okay," mom assured, "we will bring her home, I just wanted to let you know what was going on. She's really warm. We'll come to the front door!" A few hours later, she called me from her cell phone and we ran out to get her. I ran upstairs, took her temperature... 103° (damn!), gave her some Tylenol and put her to bed. Around 2:30 am, she woke up crying, so I crawled into bed with her. Not long after, I was awoken by the familiar sound of a power heave. I yanked her out of bed and quickly introduced her to one of my long lost friends, otherwise known as the porcelain God. It was a long night.
The next morning started early, "Mommy! Mommy!" she screamed. "What's wrong?" I asked. "I'm FOUR!" <Laughter> She jumped up and stood in the middle of her bed, "Look how much I've grown!" We giggled and talked for a few minutes, then I asked, "Do you want to open a little "presie?" She jumped to the floor and ran into our bedroom to wake her father, "Daddy! I'm FOUR!" We settled into the living room and opened a couple gifts, then I took her temperature again: 102° (damn!). I slipped her some more medicine and called grandma to see what time they'd be over. Once they arrived, we opened up the rest of her gifts and brought her outside. "Cover your peepers!" we screamed, "no peeking!" My husband carried her to the backyard for the big reveal.
The look on her face seemed to melt away any sadness that we had for her that day. She had wanted a swing-set for so long and, despite her lackadaisical mood, she managed to spend the next 45 minutes testing out each piece of equipment. As we watched her swinging and grinning from ear-to-ear, I caught a brief glimpse of myself nearly 40 years prior. I felt the tears building in my eyes and shook them off, "Are you happy?" I asked. "Yes!" she confirmed, "This is the best birthday, EVER!" "What was your favorite gift?" we asked. She thought for a moment, then smiled, "EVERYTHING!"