There were balloons taped to the back of the chairs.
A Happy 4 1/2 birthday sign greeted her when she came home from daycare.
There were presents on the table (two for her, one for her little sister, whose half birthday we forgot a few months back - I suppose she had better get used to it, soon-to-be-middle-child).
A pink candle was on the bench, next to the camera, waiting for the inevitable happy smiling pictures of a grateful, loving child. A child who turned four and then all her Kindy friends promptly turned five. She has been waiting (not so patiently) to be five, I wanted to buoy her spirits with a Half Birthday.
I even made special dessert.
I don't know why I bothered.
Children obviously lack that part of the brain that sees all the effort behind an event, or the time put into a triple layered jelly and custard trifle in specially bought plastic goblets.
With crushed up multi-coloured mini meringues to go on top.
But I'm not upset.
To be fair, a lot of adults still don't have this part of the brain. The just see what is in front of them, not noticing whether something is handmade, or thoughtfully put together. They merely see the object, not the shadowlands of effort behind it.
I really should have known better, shouldn't I?
I really should admit that I probably put the whole thing together for myself, rather than for her. She's four and a half. She'd celebrate the opening of a new box of Cheerios.
I think the thing that got me the most (apart from the complaining that there were no pink balloons, that she didn't like her dinner, that she was sitting in the wrong chair etc) was that later on in the bath, she told me I was a Mean Mum. I think I had told her to wash her feet properly because they were filthy.
Some days, like today, I have to remind myself that she is four and a half. She is not just a little adult, shrunk down into a size 6 with long blonde pigtails. She is a child and still learning about the subtleties of human relationships. I am the adult, though I admit I sometimes don't act like it.
Look at me, sitting in my room, sulking on the computer to you all because my four and a half year old didn't react the way I had hoped she might.
I still have so much to learn about being a parent, and even more to learn about myself.