We are still recovering from the birthday party of all birthday parties.

It was a child’s birthday party. No pony rides, hired clowns or professional party planners. It was the birthday girl herself who put it over the top, the one turning four at a full gallop.

We thought it was going to be the usual – a few presents, some candles on a sloping cake accompanied by an off-key round of ‘Happy Birthday,’ followed by a sugar surge.

We were wrong.

The second we entered the house, her older sister whispered in my ear, ‘She’s been in trouble ever since she woke up. It’s been a rough morning.’ When a five-year-old says it’s been a rough morning, you know it’s been a rough morning.

A flash of purple shot through the room. Flash blasted up the stairs, down the stairs, rocketed out the front door, back in again, circled the family room, hurdled the baby in a single bound, somersaulted across the floor, yelling, ‘It’s my happy birthday!’ and sped out the door again. 

I regretted not having a lid for my coffee. And a padded suit.

In post-party analysis, the husband says it was to be expected. She’d witnessed a string of birthdays for others all summer long. At each and every one, she was front and centre when it was time to blow out candles, her little face wedged beneath an armpit and a folded arm, radiating excitement.

Time after time, she watched as someone else opened the gifts and someone else blew out the candles. She’d bottled it, suppressed it, contained it, then she woke up, knew she was four and simply exploded – like foam peanuts bursting out of a cardboard box and the grand finale of a fireworks display. It was pure unadulterated joy, high-octane exuberance.

They corralled her to open gifts and that’s when it began – the falling unicorns. She loves those horse-like creatures with fluffy manes and a horn on top of their heads. She opened a unicorn beach towel, shrieked with delight and threw it towards the ceiling. She ripped open a large box containing a stuffed unicorn, squealed, and hurled it skyward. A unicorn nightgown was launched and then a unicorn headband.

‘Heads up!’ people yelled. ‘Incoming unicorns!’

Baby unicorns ricocheted off the ceiling.

‘Somebody cut the ceiling fan!’

She bolted towards a straight back chair, climbed on top of it and began jumping up and down.

‘Do you want to go to the ER on your birthday?’ someone snapped.

Does the ER have unicorns?

She made a beeline to the table and stared at the candles on her unicorn cake. If intensity alone could have ignited them, they would have been shooting giant flames. It was the first time all day that she had been still. Poof! The candles were out and she was off with the joy of life, trailing her like a jet stream.

Apparently, Flash began sputtering around 7 that evening and was out soon after. Her exuberance was so contagious we may make throwing gifts in the air a family tradition.

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