Amélie’s Seventh Birthday

No prizes for guessing the subject of this write-up!  Yes, as the trees don their autumnal gowns and nights really begin to draw in (I know that they start drawing in from June but you really begin to notice it after the Southward equinox) our second-born celebrates her birthday.

Seven has always been the age of reason.  In the Catholic Church seven marks the age that one can take their First Holy Communion and in Medieval times court and guild apprenticeships began.  This is because around the age of seven a child’s conscience has matured to a point where it can guide their actions; a time of moral and mental maturity.

Amélie is definitely already there, whether this is her nature or whether it is because she has an older sister, the truth probably lies somewhere in between.  So, how to celebrate reaching this milestone?  We asked Amélie what she wanted to do for her birthday and she asked for a birthday party and to go out for a meal with the family.  Two reasonable requests so we obliged.  She decided that she would like a bouncy castle party and the Leisure centre in Egham proffered such a party and so we booked it in for the Sunday after her birthday – Saturdays are too busy with swimming and dance lessons – and invitations were sent, including to Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz.

We they asked her where she would like to go for her family meal and we were somewhat surprised by her reply.  Expecting a pizza place, or the all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet or even Nandos or the Harvester our seven-year old decided that she would like to go the Toby Carvery in Old Windsor and take Nanny.  We were quite happy with this decision and so we had our plans.

Amélie’s birthday fell on a Thursday this year, but it wasn’t the usual routine of going to school for the birthday girl.  As regular readers are aware Amélie was diagnosed with amblyopia (lazy eye) last year and has, under the instructions from her orthoptist, undergone patch therapy in an attempt to cure it.  She was weaned off patch therapy over the summer and her next appointment has been booked for her seventh birthday.

I left for work early (but not before we let Amélie open her presents), so that I could sneak out slightly early to make the Toby, so Lucinda took Éowyn and then Ezra to school before taking Amélie for her appointment.  The orthoptist examined her and tested her eyes a couple of times and said that it was borderline whether they should restart patch therapy.  There was a definite improvement, however, her eye was still slightly lazy.  Unfortunately, because she is now seven (and Amélie was quite proud to tell the orthoptist – indeed anyone that would listen – that it was her seventh birthday) the chances of any additional significant improvement was incredibly slight.  They would therefore not recommend any further patch therapy, but, suggested that we keep to six monthly optician appointments and if the optician notices any deterioration then to refer her back to the clinic to begin patch therapy again.  Not the greatest of birthday presents but at least no more hospital appointments and, to an untrained observer, it is not something you would readily notice and it hasn’t caused her any problems academically, so I think we push it down the worry pile!

After the hospital appointment, Amélie returned to school and normality returned.  As mentioned I managed to sneak out of work early and met the family and Nanny at the Toby restaurant for Amélie’s birthday carvery.

Amélie further celebrated her birthday at Rainbows on Friday night before her big party day on Sunday.  Nanny Fran and Auntie Liz made their way down to help Amélie celebrate and for Auntie Liz to bring her face paints and offer face painting at the party.

As mentioned earlier, Amélie had requested a bouncy castle party and Egham Leisure centre offer exactly that kind of party.  We arrived a little early, but it wasn’t a problem, we were shown quickly into the hall where there were two bouncy castles and a selection of basketball balls and a basketball hoop.  The first bouncy castle was the traditional three-sided bouncy castle that we are all used to seeing, but the larger one was more of a bouncy obstacle course.  You had to fight your way passed the upside down monkey, avoid the snake and the two crocodiles before climbing up a wall to slide down the other side.

We were told that adults were allowed on too, so Daddy took full advantage of no kids to test it out.  Great fun!  Before everyone started to arrive the Baguettes lined up to ensure that Auntie Liz painted their faces.  Ezra going for a full on bat symbol across his nose and around his eyes.  He went to bed with the remnants of the black around the edge of his eyelids, looking like he was part of a 1980’s goth band.

Eventually, all the invitees arrived and the bouncy castles and balls kept them all busy for the hour or so we had there before heading up to the party room for food.  It would be remiss of me not to say how good the staff were, we were really looked after and there was a member of staff in the hall at all times.  If we needed anything then he would radio and another member of staff would arrive quickly to sort us out.  He was no idle spectator either, he was really interacting with the kids encouraged them to race on the bouncy obstacle course and giving them game ideas while, at the same time, being followed everywhere he went by Éowyn who had taken a real shine to him.  Going to have to watch that one!

The party felt like it went really well and all the kids appeared to enjoy themselves.  Indeed, they were a great bunch of friends that Amélie had invited, they all played nicely together and at no point did anyone get upset – except when they had to leave.  The party bags were a winner too, especially the whoopie cushions and little pots of slime.  To a child they were most excited about using the whoopie cushions to trick their dads – always dads, poor fathers!  It just proves that fart jokes transcend gender and age – they are always funny.

Although, all the clearing up was to be done by the staff at the leisure centre and all the food had been provided we were all still worn out by the time we got back home and poor Nanny Fran had to drive 120-odd miles back to West Bromwich afterwards.

Amélie’s birthday wasn’t quite over.  One of her friends couldn’t make the party so she came round on Monday evening for a special playdate of her own.  If you are going to have a birthday, you may as well stretch it out a little.

I will leave you now with a few photos from Amélie’s birthday weekend (there are more on Flickr).

Happy Birthday Amélie

Love from Mommy and Daddy