Well! Her Beanliness turned five in style yesterday, opening a few small gifts in the morning that reflect her varied interests (princesses, lego, and Spider-Man). But we saved the big gift for after school. Her current love is a show about talking trains called Chuggington. Until a year or two ago, you could buy a set of the three main Chuggington trains with track. They had an interactive component that made them “talk” to one another when you play with them, or react to some of the props in their environment– honking their horns when you roll them through a tunnel, for instance.
These playsets aren’t made anymore, but T. was able to find a few on eBay. As soon as she came in from school she knew what they were. This is probably because we still tend to talk about her as if she is two or so– discussing plans, remarking on what she’s done, etc.– and on one occasion while she was in the room, we had talked about how high T should bid on the one playset. I think he had also made a remark when one of the boxes arrived in the post, and she obviously noticed, because when she saw it, she said: “It’s the Chuggington box!”
And oh my word, this gift was a huge hit.
She played with it, she talked to it, she narrated it– when the little red engine, Wilson, chirped “Wheels to the rails!” Bean added “Said the red Wilson!” T and I were pressganged into playing with her, and she happily tootled her trains around until a good fifteen minutes after bedtime.
Later that night, as I was going upstairs to bed myself, I heard Bean call out in her sleep: “Chuggington! Train!” I congratulated T when he came to bed: if she’s sleep-talking about her present, it hit the sweet spot.
Possibly slightly too sweet: this morning just after six, she woke T up so she could go downstairs to play with the trains right away. When I hauled my carcass out of bed forty-five minutes later, I could hear her squealing, “Traintastic!” through the floor.
She hadn’t even had her party yet. That happened this evening at a soft-play place. Nearly all of the children we invited turned up, along with a parent or two. Because I don’t do the school run, I had to introduce myself to many people for the first time. More than one parent said “Ah, that’s where Eve’s accent comes from!”
Bean is more of a natural hostess than I am, though. Having been to so many parties, she knew what to do. She greeted her guests and said “It’s nice to see you!” She even asked one boy if he wanted anything to drink. She waited until the end of the birthday song to blow out her candles. At the end of the night, she helped me hand around goody bags to the children and said “Thank you for coming,” to everyone, including many of the parents. What nice people we know!
After everyone had gone home, we packed up her presents– two huge bags full!– and went out into the night. It was clear and chill, but with a smell of fresh-turned earth on the air. Off to the west a faint glow of twilight hung soft over the horizon. “Oh!” said Bean. “Mommy, Daddy, look!”
She pointed up at the sky, where a crescent moon hung bright among the stars and planets. “The moon is huge! What a beautiful moon.”
It is a beautiful moon. And a beautiful Bean. Happy birthday, Kidlet.