There are currently twelve girls at Poppys House, which means twelve different birthdays. You might think that the birthdays start to feel a bit redundant (sing happy birthday, eat cake, be done), but this story is about how we utterly changed that cycle. It was truly the best birthday party I’ve ever been to.
If you have read my past blogs, you would know that the girls are obsessed with a show about mermaids. So much so that they’ve started to have dreams in which they are swimming with a tail. So when nine-year-old Alexa was turning ten, it was a no-brainer that we were going to have a movie night in celebration. The girls took that idea and ran with it. I don’t mean they were just excited to watch some mermaids, I mean they were thrilled to be planning this epic surprise party for Alexa.
The planning started well in advance. One of the girls slyly passed me her notebook when she was supposed to be studying, and when I opened it up I discovered a pile of coins. She and another girl had compiled what little money they had to spend and asked me to use it to buy party snacks for the group. I was in awe of their immediate generosity, and although I didn’t take their money, I definitely bought some snacks.
Then the day arrived and the plan was put into action. After dinner, right when the excitement would normally settle down, we had the younger girls stay in the kitchen while the other girls ran upstairs to our study room and began decorating like their lives depended on it. They drew a semi-accurate picture of Alexa on the whiteboard, they brought in their mattresses to create lounging options, they laid the cookies on platters, and finally, they hid and turned off the lights.
When Alexa was led into the room and the lights flickered on, screams of joy spread like wildfire. And before I could finish saying the word “surprise”, the girls had already run up to Alexa and began hugging her. I don’t mean an obligatory side hug, I mean the real deal; the kind that is filled with uncontainable love. The smiles on their faces weren’t because they knew in a few minutes they would be eating, but because they were genuinely happy for Alexa. You could tell that right away. You can’t fake those kinds of interactions.
Just like that, the party was on. We created a scavenger hunt with the reward being a piece of candy. The girls made up a dance routine. Everyone was whacked with a pillow a few times. Oh, and if you were wondering, we absolutely crammed together on those mattresses and watched with intense investment what the mermaids were up to. What more could you want in a birthday???