Monday, January 18, 2010


Last summer Greta was obsessed with her birthday.  When I posted about it it was June 28th and her birthday was 170 days away.  We made a birthday chain with one link for each day until her birthday.  The idea was to make time more concrete.
It was not an instant success.  Even though the chain, hung, criscrossed the

ceiling and dangled down a wall, five minutes after we put it up Greta ran to

me with a gift bag for her presents.

It did sink in, though, eventually. But before it did, Greta went through many of the stages of a pint-sized grief over it.

Denial: What was that bag for her presents but full blown denial?
Anger: She was resentful of other kids' birthdays.  She wanted to tear the chain down.
Bargaining: "If I tear them all today will it be my birthday?"
Depression:  No depression...whew!... but she did go through a period, after dutifully tearing a loop each day for weeks, of leaving them for several days or a week and then catching up.
Acceptance: She stopped talking about her party and began to look forward to the other dates we marked on her calendar: a wedding, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Day.

And then, on Saturday, she was tearing the next to last loop.

And yesterday she welcomed her guests and opened her presents....handmade and lovingly chosen gifts.

Including this flamingo that Evelyn holed up in her room to needle felt.

Greta is five now.  She learned to read two digit numbers from her chain calendar.  And to be a bit more patient and enjoy the here and now.  But I think we might still have to work on acceptance.

As I was tucking her into bed she began to cry.  "I don't want to be five.  I want to be four again.  I want to stay young."


patricia said...

I remember that original post. Seems like it was just yesterday. But I didn't have a 170-link chain here showing me how long ago it really was.

She is so funny. Tell her that the good news is that she won't be six for another 360+ days.

Happy birthday, Greta, you *young* thing!

AM said...

Forever Young:

Kat said...

June 28 was my time flies...unless you are 4. She's too cute.

The Stone Age Techie said...

Last June 28th was our twelfth anniversary, and it feels like thirteen is coming up so fast!

What a wonderful way to help make time more tangible. On a nearly daily basis, my five-year-old asks me to set a timer to help him get to some important landmark coming up later in the day, like screen time, or a yummy lunch, or a play date with his best friend. It makes me think about time differently, as I imagine Greta's chain made you think about time a bit differently, too.
Happy birthday, Greta!

Kristin said...

Happy Birthday Greta you young little cutie pie. Great photos and that flamingo is the bomb.

gina said...


i remeber that original post- time flew for me, lol.

My five and a half year old is looking forward to hers now because her older sister is planning her party. But oddly enough she cried when she turned five too. She said she didn't want to lose her "cute" voice. Maybe she gets too many comments on it. ;)

sarah in the woods said...

What a sweet post! Happy birthday, Greta.

Stefaneener said...

Change is hard, even when it comes only one link at a time.

Happy birthday.

Anonymous said...

I loove that photo of her and the chains. What a little sweetie. I'm sure she will be an awesome 5 yr old :)