Thanks everyone for your lovely comments and emails. Fred is now four years old and had a lovely birthday. She woke up to find four pink parcels and one spotty one waiting for her on the couch. She said 'Look at all the presents' then almost broke Martin's brain by not showing any inclination to open them.
A bit later she came up to us and asked shyly, 'Why are all the presents there?'
'They're for your birthday!'
'Didn't you know you get presents for your birthday?'
Confused look. No answer. She opens first the card from Grandma and Grandad and then the card from us. She reads them to us (they say things about elephants bottoms - Grandad had drawn an elephant's bottom - and antennae - not sure where the antennae come in. Maybe the letter i?) She then continues to break Martin's brain by continuing to not open her presents.
'What are you going to do now?' Martin says.
'Run around and play.'
Eventually Martin manages to convince her that these presents are for her and she is allowed to open them and there are no kids coming to watch her open them (I think she knows other people bring presents to parties but she didn't realise we would also give her presents).
She enters into the spirit of it by opening the biggest present first, a pink razor scooter. She loves it. Hurray! Then comes the puzzle. She wants to stop opening presents and do her puzzle. We start. Una sabotages it. Martin begs Fred to open another present. We put the puzzle away. She opens another present - this time it's an Eric Carle book, The Bad-tempered Ladybird from Grandma and Grandad. She's kind of getting into the present thing. She opens the next one - a Schleich unicorn. It's love at first sight, she names it Sparkle. Last parcel, two more books - The Princess and the Pea by Lauren Child and The Twelve Dancing Princesses by Jane Ray, one I actually bought second hand two years ago and we've been hanging onto till she was old enough. It turns out Four is a good age for fairy tales, Fred has also recently discovered Hansel and Gretel - I'd love to know what her subconscious makes of it, this tale of abandonment and appetite, lost children, ambiguous mothers.
After present opening, breakfast and phone calls from both Grandmothers, we headed out to the Collingwood Children's Farm, one of my favourite places in Melbourne. It was a whim, but one of those really felicitous outings, because it turned out there was a special thing on, part of the Comedy Festival. Not only was the entry to the Farm free, there was also a show, with three stand up comedians, plus the MCing 0f hilarious Claire Hooper, who did a brilliant job at being funny simultaneously for four year olds and old year olds. Fred was in awe of the whole event and incredibly starstruck afterwards. It really was a great day out, including a picnic lunch purchased from the really excellent farm cafe. I heart Melbourne. I want to live at Collingwood Children's Farm. I want Claire Hooper to come to my party.
We had to postpone Fred's dinner party because of sickness (ours, though we are all on the road to recovery thanks for asking. Conjunctivitis officially sucks though, I'm way voting it off the island) but it turned out a blessing of sorts because two doors down let us know by way of politely worded anonymous notelet in the letterbox that it was also having a party and not the kind with four year olds, but the doof doof make me cry with impotent rage at 3 in the morning kind. So while it rained all afternoon, Martin and Una slept, Fred watched Alice in Wonderland and I made a cake. We took it to Fred's Nana and Papa's, along with a lasagne, and stayed overnight. More presents (clothes) and a musical birthday card and cake and candles - Fred had a happy birthday. Now she is just four all the time. In the car on the way home she was saying 'and then I will be five and then I will be six and then I will be seven and then I will be eight...' Boggles the brain really. But for a whole year she will be four.
Fred watches three 'Saddle Club girls' with longing. Later she gets very sad that even though she's four whole years old she's still not old enough to ride the farm horses.
Yes, it's a poo. On wheels. Every now and then it moved. It was mildly disturbing - poo with agency. The kids loved it.
Just to prove Una was there too.