When my first little traveler was 11 days old she set off from Australia for her first journey to Jakarta (via Singapore). G and I had been living in Jakarta for about 5 months before she was born so we were very excited about getting her to our "home". When we landed in Singapore for a quick stopover I began what would soon become a regular occurrence in my life, searching airport lounges for a place to change a baby. Still operating as a novice I gingerly removed her clothes and slowly began what my father refers to as a "greese and oil change". As I finished getting my little traveler dressed and stood marveling at what I considered to be the most spectacular looking child I had ever laid eyes on a well dressed woman with a very kind face entered the room. She said all the things we love to hear as new parents, compliment, compliment, compliment and then with a tiny hint of sadness she said something that has really stayed with me "treasure every day with your little girl, my baby is 21". I then saw a little tear in her eye and naturally being post natal I immediately joined her.
Fast forward to this morning. I awoke to find three men in my bed (be careful what you wish for). Okay, so maybe it was one man and 2 boys. As number 2 came running in to the bedroom and chorused "guess whose birthday it is!" Number 1 appeared at the door, all arms and legs with a cheeky sheepish grin. After the familiar ritual of presents and birthday breakfast we load up the car with the obligatory 562 cupcakes for the class, you know, the ones for the class, the teacher, the friends of friends and "don't forget the music teacher because she asked for one yesterday"!
We talk in the car about previous birthdays, she wants the details of the first one in Indonesia, the second in Langkowi. She remembers bits of the 3rd one in Tripoli and sharing it with her friend Elizabeth. We talk about rock climbing, skating and bowling parties in Canada and last years pool party in Houston. Jokes are made at my expense on the bog standard but much required chocolate love heart cake with smarties around it that I make on each and every birthday. I grin to myself in the front seat and make an offer to stop making it and there is a resounding NOOOOOO!
As the four little travelers and I wander in to the school yard with our mountain of supplies we hear across the car park "Happy Birthday Lizzie" and all four of my little travelers immediately smile and bask in being part of the birthday entourage. When we arrive at her classroom door she is presented with cards from her new friends and birthday hugs and congratulations, the boys stand around trying to look as aloof as possible and the girls giggle and admire her new birthday clothes. It's all so different than kindergarten and the early school years. When you're 10, you're discussing itouch versus ipod, psp's, play stations and x box. Gone are the days of barbies and transformers.
We do the daily hug goodbye after she's loaded her backpack in to her locker and I've once again shrieked at the mess, I give her a tight squeeze and she says rather quickly "okay Mum, you can go now", we both laugh. When I look at her face I can see that little baby at the airport and I can picture the woman's face and I reckon I've done exactly as I was told. I'm treasuring it.
P.S. Can you please note that all cupcake credit needs to go to G, he was the one who was up late last night with a spatula and a mountain of patty pans. I feel it may be in my best interests to mention it.