"Mama, we're planners," Magnolia says to me with a proud grin on her face. She's right. So one night as I'm looking for things to do to occupy the girls until bedtime, I decide to brainstorm with her how to celebrate her birthday. After assuring her that Brian and I would have the final say...we got started. She had ideas right away, but not necessarily what I expected. We have a small apartment, with a tiny kitchen. I was really hoping to talk her into going to one of the many children's amusement places here in Beijing and be able to pay someone to set up, entertain, and clean up the party.
No such luck. She was adamant. She wanted her friends to come to our house, to see her room, to play with her toys. Most of her friends are from fairly well off expat families, each has their own playroom full of toys. We have a cupboard. I was a little afraid it would be a disappointment for the kids and therefore for Magnolia. But I couldn't talk her out of it.
She wanted to do "circle time," so each child would need their own colored hanger, the item that she and Kaleia use to recreate their classroom circle at home. That she didn't think to ask for the real supplies to make a bona fide preschool circle surprised me. Then they would all need a small blanket, in case they needed to have rest time, real or pretend. They could play with blocks and read books and draw. She was convinced this was better than any bouncy castle or elaborate playground.
For food, she listed anything and everything that she liked, thinking back to our last few meals and our favorite restaurants. Mostly it contained kid food, which made me suggest taking everyone to her favorite nearby restaurant where they have both hot dogs and hamburgers. The cake was another no discussion point. It must be a strawberry cake, with pink frosting shaped like Hello Kitty with strawberries for the ears. Kailyn had one for her birthday and so she needed to have one too. Maggie doesn't even like Hello Kitty. And I had no idea what this cake in her imagination looked like, let alone where to find strawberry cake and frosting in Beijing.
What would you like for your birthday? She struggled a bit with this one, then her eyes lit up and she stated definitively, "Paper." Paper? "So I don't have to ask Papa for his computer paper all the time." Again, I was surprised by her answer. She said she really didn't need anything else. I can do paper! I wonder how long she will be satisfied with simple pleasures.
Besides planning, Magnolia LOVES projects, thus her request for paper. So we set about to make the invitations for her to bring to her school. Party invitations are hard to find here, so I went to the internet to find a template. Parenting.com had some that were not only invitations, but were also projects. I chose a few for her to pick from and she picked these origami frogs -- perfect for her first Leap Year birthday. We colored them together and she cut them out. Then Brian and I helped her fold them, and typed out the information on 1/4 sheets of paper. She copied all of her friends names on the back side and taped the frogs on. She was very excited to deliver them the next day!