A “Red Plate” day for my 4-year-old

It was our daughter’s 4th birthday this week, and birthdays are a big deal in our house. She chose to wear her pink butterfly dress to preschool, with her big black boots. She was hopeful to be the teacher’s helper at school, and excited to pass out her birthday treats. Before she left for school, I asked her what she wanted for her birthday dinner, fulling expecting the answer. “Macaroni and cheese!” she exclaimed.

I rushed home after work to begin making her birthday dinner of choice, an entree that I rarely make. I chose a “5-star” recipe from an internet recipe site; creating an oozy, gooey, cheesy masterpiece. Bubbling with gruyere, white cheddar, nutmeg, and whole wheat pasta; the pinnacle of pasta perfection.

My 4-year-old busted through the door upon her arrival home, meeting me in the kitchen. After a huge hug, she told me about her amazing day. She was chosen to help the teacher on stage, and everyone loved her birthday treats. She had also discovered a new set of life skills that she was eager to demonstrate.

“Do you want to see how high a 4-year-old can jump?” she asked.

“Absolutely,” I said as she rocketed herself off the hardwood floor.

“Super high!” she yelled.

“Do you want to see how fast a 4-year-old can run?” she asked.

“Absolutely,” I said as I saw her pink ruffled skirt flying in the wind created by her speed.

“Super fast!” she exclaimed.

Shortly after this impressive display, we all sat down to dinner. I presented the macaroni and cheese with great pride on her special Red Plate. The Plate is an indicator of great success, great pride, and great events. And this birthday was certainly all of that. Her birthday dinner was a special moment, a mental snapshot of what our family was like on that day. It was a time to pause, be thankful, and look forward to the adventure of a new year.

I was snapped out of my “mommy moment” as her face leaned over her Red Plate for the second (and last) bite of her dinner. She told me how the macaroni and cheese was not like her favorite restaurant special, and she was done eating.

Ugh. Good intentions foiled by Kraft again.

She is a wonderful daughter, big sister, and friend. Everyday she teaches me something that otherwise I would never know. She adds to my experience of life, and she is desperately loved.

Happy birthday, sweetie. I am so proud of you, and so honored to be your mom. I wonder how “super high” you will able to jump next year, and if you will still want macaroni and cheese.