Our last day in Mexico was my 34th birthday. It was about as idyllic as possible for a day of international travel. I went out for breakfast with Kip (always a favorite activity), kayaked to a distant shipwreck (still have remnants of blisters to prove it), floated in the pool, drank one last Banana Mama (heavy on the banana) and then flew home.
Rest time abruptly stopped the minute we arrived in LA. We started cleaning up the apartment and doing the laundry, getting ready for the kids to return and to celebrate our daughter’s 11th birthday.
Kip picked the kids up from the airport while I stayed back to welcome about 30 friends for the biggest surprise party our daughter has ever experienced. I’m not so sure having a surprise party for a tired kid coming home from a three-week trip is the kindest thing, but at least she felt celebrated. (She had expressed a concern to her Nana that her friends might forget her while she was gone for so long.)
On Wednesday, her actual birthday, we went to Disneyland’s California Adventure where she rode the Tower of Terror about five times. Because it was her birthday, we got a bunch of fast passes, and despite the end of summer crowds, rode all the best rides several times without waiting in line.
Ok, so why am I the only one here not pretending to pick my nose for the camera? Must be the Kip genetics at work.
Wanna know something funny? Our kids both think this ride is suppose to be a replica of the Hollywood Apartments where our pastor and several of our friends live. I suppose if someone from the 30s was transported from Hollywood to the current Hollywood, a run-down part of Thai Town with hotel-turned apartments; they might think they were in the Twilight Zone too.
After weeks of leading separate adventures, it was a really nice way to spend the day together.
One thing that has been particularly difficult for Kip and me lately is the rapid change in our daughter. Not only did she grow about 8 inches last year, but she transitioned from mostly little kid, to something a little closer to a young adult.
At least once on her birthday, I thought about my dad and how he handled the bitter sweetness of our growing up. He would give my mom that reassuring melancholy smile and say gently, "It's normal, Love."
It's normal for the transitioning kid to push against her parents' expectations. It's normal for her to be offended when we don't get the message that she is "NOT a little kid anymore."
And it's normal for us to grieve the loss of our little singing, dancing Pocahontas-wanna-be princess.
And yet ... I like the big kid too. She is sophisticated and funny. She still wants to please us and she has great ideas. And no matter what she says, she really is still a little kid --comparatively speaking. I look forward to the years ahead.