Jackie turns 5

“When I was little, before I was three, I learned that when someone receives many gifts for her birthday, she opens a gift, then takes a little break, sips a little wine, then she opens another gift… and so on. Then everybody goes home.”

She makes up a lot of things, and I know when she does it. Last night I had just enough and I asked her to preface her made-up stories with: this is my imagination. I read in a book about helping kids differentiate between creative imagination and telling lies. Inventors, writers, painters, engineers and so on, all use their imagination to create in their mind first something that hasn’t been created before. And it’s great. But there is a time to be creative, and a time to tell the plain truth, no matter how boring that is.

Her birthday was wonderful. It was sunny and warm. A perfect mid October day, and an answer to my prayers. Last year around this time it snowed.

She had invited 40 kid guests. Only 30 made it, plus their parents. It was a morning in the park, with good food, drinks, snacks and yummy ChezCoco raspberry and vanilla cake, decorated with Frozen characters and fresh fruit.

She had very few wishes, but she narrowed them down to a stuffed unicorn, a spangled/sequined shirt, and a jacket with fur hoodie, a puzzle and a lego and books. She got everything she wished for and more.

Kids played hard on the newest coolest playground in Cluj, created by a company in Finland. Parents socialized, Conrad and I tried to take pictures in between wheeling kids back or talking with friends. We were absolutely exhausted mid day. Jackie was high on excitement. But all in all, nobody got lost or hurt and I find it was a perfect day for kids.

Planning this social event was an exercise of listening to Jackie. She expressed her wishes, with respect/shyness but clear specificity, and at times I was tempted to adjust what she wished for… but I stopped and reconsidered my tendency. I joyfully accommodated within reason her wishes, and delighted in her joy. And it occurs to me that: us listening well to her heart’s desire, and respecting her ability to think for herself what she likes… it is slowly but surely building in her a deeper sense of empowerment and confidence; all the while we try to model daily for her respect, awareness of others, generosity, humility… so she can embody them, as a pleasant human-being as she grows older.