Tess’s Birthday Party Will Be A Girly-Girl Fantasy


I am in Kansas City today where, tonight, I will enjoy the kickoff event for my granddaughter Tess’s two-year birthday. This will consist primarily of a quick dinner featuring all of her favorite foods, a sugar-infused birthday cake with piles of sugar-infused icing, and then a trip downtown where a twinkle-lit coach and horses will be summoned to cart her (and us!) around the main square. I can hardly wait.

Tomorrow is her Cinderella-themed birthday party. She has only had two years to make friends, so one would assume the guest list would be rather small, but her mother has had 38 years to make friends and, fortunately, many of those friends have two-year-olds.

My daughter Jen, Tess’s mother, is really biting the bullet to give this child the party she has been babbling about for months. It is quite a departure for her because, when Jen was small, her life consisted primarily of tree forts and fishing and robots, so parties evolved along those lines. We lived in rural Loxahatchee so, if Jen was out of her blue jeans, it was because she was either going to church or performing in a school play.

But children, I have long believed, inherently know they must be a departure from their parents in order to make their own mark in the world. Plus, it’s hard to experiment and make mistakes with an experienced and over-zealous role model at your side. So Tess is the girliest-girl you ever did see. She loves hats, necklaces, purses and socks with ruffles. We’ll be walking down the street, and she’ll stop dead in her tracks to point out another little girl’s flouncy skirt.

“Me have that,” she’ll say, nodding her head decisively. It took me a while to realize that she didn’t mean she had a skirt like that but that she had to have a skirt like that.

Shoes are very big. That’s understandable, as most of what enters her field of vision is knee-height or lower, but the number of shoes I have had to stop and admire! And when did we start embellishing children’s shoes like this? I suppose the answer is “for some time,” but fashion is something I seldom notice, while one of the first words Tess ever spoke was, “sparkly.”

So Saturday’s party will be quite sparkly. With embellishments. And (poor lip-biting daughter of mine) pinkness. We will festoon the living room with metallic streamers, hand out glittery plastic jewelry to everyone and, I suppose, play games like “pin the crown on the princess.” I hope Jen can handle it. I know she’s worried that Tess will become a frou-frou girl instead of a determined young lady but, as I had to point out, it was Tess’s determination that got her a Cinderella party in the first place.

So she’s going to be OK. More than OK. OK with sparkly shoes.