Mayuki has now had her third birthday, and the first one I think she really appreciated. Obviously, actually getting born is unlikely to be a pleasant experience for the child, and the child doesn’t even get the elation that compensates the mother. I’m not sure that Mayuki noticed her first birthday at all; she really had to be encouraged to look at the presents, and quickly lost interest. Her second birthday was much the same. This time, however, she did her birthday properly.
Her present from my mother (and Ray) and Yuriko’s parents was a large, wooden dolls’ house, which came with wooden furniture and two wooden dolls. None of this plastic rubbish for Mayuki. Of course, wooden toys are durable, as well as feeling nice to play with, so there were definite practical considerations involved. There were also completely emotional considerations; Yuriko really wanted Mayuki to have a dolls’ house like this, possibly because Yuriko never had one.
Fortunately, Mayuki also loved it. We set it up in the evening after she went to sleep, so it was there in the morning. She quickly found it, and, as the picture shows, started playing with it in her pyjamas, completely forgetting about having her morning milk. She kept playing with it for the next few hours, and still plays with it a lot now, although the various wooden lamps are as likely to be the family as the dolls are. Still, that’s the benefit that these sorts of toys have for development: they encourage her imagination. The fact that she will happily play with the house by herself is just an extra benefit for us.
In the evening, we gave her the present from us: a wooden Thomas the Tank Engine train set. People seem to suspect that my enthusiasm was as much behind this as Yuriko’s was behind the dolls’ house, but it really isn’t. I was never into train sets, and I’m still not. No, this is the present that Mayuki pretended to get and play with while playing with me a few weeks before her birthday.
Fortunately, she was just as enthusiastic about playing with the real thing, spending hours pushing the trains round the track with me. We got her two trains: Thomas, and Hiro, a Japanese train introduced in the newer animated episodes, so I would push one round while she did the other, taking turns to go in front. She took the train set with her when she went with Yuriko to visit her grandparents in Nagoya soon after her birthday, and played with it a lot there. It’s not been unpacked yet, so maybe we’ll do that tonight.
Then we had the birthday dinner. This was less of a roaring success, although it certainly wasn’t a failure. The main problem was that Mayuki refused to eat the food that Yuriko prepared, preferring to play with her toys, and didn’t even eat any of her cake, only one of the strawberries off the top. (Mayuki isn’t that into sweets and chocolate in general, in fact.) Still, that aside, Mayuki did participate in singing Happy Birthday to herself, and blew the candles out, getting two with the first blow and the last with her second attempt. Maybe next year Mayuki will be properly into the celebratory meal aspects as well.
Mayuki didn’t really want to go to bed, but that’s fairly normal. She was reassured when we told her that the toys would still be there in the morning, and she did play with the train set again as soon as she woke up. In fact, she got up and went to play quietly with it, so that I didn’t immediately realise that she was awake.
So, her birthday was a success. Now that she’s three, we’re looking at kindergartens, because the Japanese school year starts in April, so it’s nearly time to apply. Maybe next year she’ll be able to have her friends from kindergarten round for a birthday party.