“You can have a party Eliza. You can have Grandpa and Grandma and Nana and David and Mummy and Daddy and your sisters. It’ll be a great party”.
My sister tries to convince her daughter to limit her fourth birthday to a family gathering. My niece looks at her mother silently, but the cogs are turning in her brain. She smells a rat and two days later, after serious reflection, she’s decided she’s having none of it. She speaks quietly “I would like to have some of my friends at my party”.
My sister laughs. Busted.
The only friend Eliza wants to attend is Danny. Surely she has other friends? Her preschool teacher confirms that she plays with Ruby and Charlotte but never with Danny. Strange, even I know she talks about him all the time. The teacher shines a light on the puzzle. Danny is the naughtiest child in the class. Eliza watches him. His antics delight her. She laughs uncontrollably when he gets in trouble.
A well-behaved girl, Eliza dreams of misbehaving and gets a mischievous twinkle in her eye when she sees any sign of naughtiness. It brings her to life. She vicariously lives roguishness and devilry. Oh how she dreams of being wild and free. If only she could break the shackles of her parents’ endless rules and regulations, but she dare not. Danny lives a life of which she can only dream. She envies and admires him.
To save the effort of having guests at her house, my sister suggests holding the party at the local park. Again, Eliza is clear about her wishes “No. I would like it at home. I want to show Danny my bedroom”. And there’s no doubt in her mind that she wants the swimming pool cake. Her mother is relieved – it’s easy to create.
My sister invites a family friend with a five-year-old girl to help make up the numbers. Three days after being informed of the gate-crasher Eliza very quietly expresses her views “Mummy, I didn’t want to invite Amelia to my party …”. My sister stifles her laughter. She’s busted again but it’s too late, she can’t withdraw the invite.
Eliza has a clear vision of her party and it doesn’t include a third wheel.
So, in front of her entire family, Eliza will have her party with a boy who fascinates and inspires her but to whom she never speaks. In thirty years this would be an unimaginably awkward social situation, though arguably still not as uncomfortable as many of my dating experiences. The lucky girl is blissfully unaware of the world of humiliation and heartbreak she’s yet to experience. I wouldn’t want to have to grow up again.
Happy Birthday Eliza. Enjoy these black-and-white years where you know your mind so clearly, don’t have to pretend to like people you don’t, and can openly state your desires without restriction, judgement or consequences. Have fun with Danny, but if he doesn’t make an effort after seeing your bedroom then forget him. Bad boys are tiresome and being good pays off, or so I’m told.