What birthday summed you up the best? I’m not saying your best birthday, or the most memorable one. I’m saying, which of your birthdays contained all the elements that, combined, explained the person you were/are?

I ask that question because I believe yesterday was the most C. birthday of C.’s life. She was happy, crazy, giggly, and excited. She also had three meltdowns, got in trouble and sent to her room, and had some of her favorite toys taken away because she was fighting over them with one of her sisters.

That, in a nutshell, is C., our wild-mood-swing of a daughter.

With a weekend birthday, things got stretched out.

Friday, her grandmother picked her up after school and took her out for a shopping trip and dinner. Saturday, sadly, her softball game got rained out, denying her the opportunity to go 5–5 with a bunch of RBIs and runs scored on her birthday.[1] That evening, since S. was out watching Pitch Perfect 2 with two of her sisters, I let C. and her sisters pick a movie to rent. So we watched the latest version of Annie, which they all loved and I kind of hated.[2]

And then on her actual birthday, we made French Toast for breakfast, ordered Chinese food for dinner, and she helped make her cake (white cake with strawberry mist frosting). Another unplanned highlight was FaceTiming with her week-old cousin in Boston, which was fun. Gifts? Some new Legos. All kinds of Justice stuff, both crafty things and some new gear for pool/lake season. A Beados set, which I really don’t understand. And a new set of paints that is sure to cause parental consternation at some point.

So, C. at nine. She said she doesn’t feel any different, and I don’t know that she’s changed much. That whole wild mood swing thing has always been a challenge for us. I still remember her very first, epic meltdown. It was Christmas-time and she was 18 or 19 months old. She didn’t like what we served for dinner so she threw herself on the floor and screamed-and-wailed. Showing patience and restraint I’ve rarely shown since, I left her on the floor to do her thing. And after about 20 minutes she passed out. I left her there, under the kitchen table, for at least another half hour, worried that moving her would kick things off again.

Her meltdowns might transpire a little differently now, but they are still quick to appear. C. simply does not have a poker face. If she’s disappointed, you’ll know it right away. Unfortunately that disappointment all-too-often turns into tears and emotions that don’t match the level of disappointment. Or at least to S. and me.

The thing is, though, that she’s also super sweet and finds delight in simple things. I think she’s a really caring and giving friend. As tough as it is to deal with as a parent sometimes, her reality is that she’s a person who is always going to hit the extremes of emotional reactions. I wish we could lock her in a little better at the steady middle. But I also really enjoy those moments when she’s giggling crazily about something that is only mildly amusing to the rest of us.

She does well in school. Other kids seem to really like her. And she often has a rather sunny outlook on things. That, and more, makes it worth finding a way to weather the times when dark clouds appear and Hurricane C. roars in.

I remember having an awesome game on my birthday the year I turned 13. I was a little too pumped up, as I recall. In the first I singled, stole second, stole third, and then tried to steal home. After drawing a throw from the catcher the third baseman gunned me down at the plate. I had Bryce Harper levels of confidence that night!  ↩

A) I hate musicals. B) I hated the original Annie, which we watched not too long ago. C) A lot of poor wrtiting and acting. Quvenzhané Wallis was cute, though. And I enjoyed pretty much everything Rose Byrne did.  ↩