Last Saturday, as eyes turned glassy and coughs turned nasty and aches began to conquer the depths, the annual visitation of the creeping crud became too obvious to deny. Our oldest son canceled work (it's hard to promote healthy smoothies at the Jamba store with a two-pack-a-day cough) and we began to rearrange our plans for the next few days. The biggest change: two sweet girls from Morgan Hill were not on their way to our house to celebrate a very important thirteenth birthday. It was a sad decision to have to make, but fever germs didn't need to be shared.
At some point on Sunday afternoon, the soon-to-be-birthday girl asked with sadness, "Why couldn't you have had me in June, Mommy? We always get sick in February." For the last three years, that has been true: at least one person has had a fever and a cold on her birthday. I seem to have been completely lacking insight into future cold and flu germs on February 10, 1996; all I could think about was the fact that it was time for baby #4 to arrive, and that I would prefer not to wait another second, let alone another four months, for her to join our family.
After a Sunday of true rest, and a Monday of slower-than-usual Mondayness, we were ready to celebrate. Banner, flowers, Dutch babies for breakfast, lunch with Daddy and a movie all added up to a festive and celebratory day.
Later we had cake and off-key birthday singing and general silliness. It was an amazingly fine birthday for a Plan B celebration.
Many people cautioned us about having a house-full of teenagers. With our newest birthday, we have reached our maximum number of teens at one time: four. We do have plenty of hormones, hours of conversations, lots of planning for the future, long sessions of prayer. It's not always easy to hold back the worry when so many in the house are in intense and significant seasons of life, but it is still a gift to be enjoyed, a rich and fulfilling life.
Some children's approach to each day makes it easier to remember that. Our birthday girl is one of those. She meets life with full enthusiasm and has few fears. She sees stories and drawings and dream lands where others can only see the ground at their feet, and she comes in the room with blue eyes sparkling and curls bouncing more often than not. She loves typing on her Royal typewriter from the thrift store (what nostalgia that tap-tap-tap brings), and I often wonder what stories will roll of that hot press in the future. The pink tuplips her brother gave her are the perfect picture of her life: vibrant, cheerful, graceful, beautiful. How grateful I am for my happy 13th birthday girl.