Over the weekend we celebrated E’s birthday at home, just the four of us. We spent a happy day playing with new toys, dressing up, and baking cupcakes. It was a simple and stress-free day compared to past birthday events I’ve forced myself to put together for her, yet she sweetly told us that this was the “best birthday she’s ever had”. It made me realize that us parents sometimes tend to overthink what makes a kid happy. With E, it was obvious that opening presents was all she really cared about.

I did put in a little effort in making a surprise video this year that had some of her friends and classmates and family whom she hasn’t seen in a long time say happy birthday to her. It was so great to see her surprised and delighted reaction to seeing her friends’ messages.

This year I haven’t taken as many photos of her as in previous years when we were travelling more. I think the working-from-home fatigue had really taken away some of my motivation for picking up my camera. These past few days I wanted to make an effort to capture E in her vivacious five-year-old glory, and looking at these photos made me realize just how much she’s matured in just the last couple of months during shelter-in-place. I guess it wasn’t as obvious just being around her everyday but somehow it showed through in the photos.

I’m really proud of how independent and creative she has become. She’s filled up three 100-page sketchbooks over the summer and there is no sign of slowing down. She is showing a great interest in playing the piano, and is picking up what I’m teaching her as well as composing her own tunes. She is thriving in her first month of kindergarten despite it being online. Sometimes I’m secretly happy that she still runs to us howling with tears streaming when she scrapes her knee because in those moments I get to scoop her up in my arms and still feel wholly needed by her. Or else she’s getting to be too independent already and I still sometimes want time to rewind just a little.

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