Petra’s birthday (Part 1)

Guess who’s five!

Petra’s birthday was a long, drawn-out series of events this year. Unlike some years, when it’s a party and DONE, this was a “no-party” year for Petra, so we did everything we could to make her feel extra special.

This started with a visit to the library two days before her actual birthday, to get her very own library card. We let Silas get his own card when he turned five, and Petra has been counting down the days to her big five-year-old birthday for this reason. She frequently told the librarian how much longer she had to wait. Her favorite librarian told us that she was taking a few weeks of leave beginning precisely on Petra’s birthday, so we opted to bend that rule and let her get it a little early. She was so proud, and so excited to select a stack of books for her first checkout. No surprises–lots of books about dinosaurs.

The next day (so birthday – 1) was the Virginia Mennonite Relief Sale. It almost always falls on or near Petra’s birthday, and for a few years, she thought that all this fuss was for her. She understands now that it’s a much bigger thing than just her, but she still enjoys it. We see lots of friends there, get delicious donuts, enjoy a great breakfast organized by JC and Peter, check out gorgeous quilts, bounce in the bounce house, visit animals in the petting zoo, climb on various animal sculptures, and shop at the children’s sale.

It’s almost as good as a party.

On her actual birthday, she got like…a bazillion presents from relatives far and near. Highlights included a T. Rex necklace from Aunt Heather, and a couple of fossil dig kits. Big brother got her this hamster thing that snaps together with another set she has and little (toy) hamsters scoot around in it. As it was the only thing she actually asked for, she was thrilled to get it. She also got a lovely dress from Bethany, her fairy godmother, a couple days later.

One very special gift came in the form of a link from Uncle Alex. The last time we were together, he said that he wished he could watch Jurassic Park with her, but as she finds some episodes of My Little Pony too scary, that’s probably not a great choice. He sent us a link to a 90-minute version where he had edited out all the scary bits and even added his own voiceover to make it make sense … sort of.

She was kind of excited to watch it (I stopped the video too soon, she said, “I even want to be a paleontologist”)

After church, I took Petra to the Arboretum for JMU Girls’ Science Day. She’s honestly a little young for it still, but she was thrilled to pet a snake, a frog, and a turtle, and play on the “wilderness playground.”

While Petra and I were out playing, JC and Silas made a birthday cake. Petra wanted “a strawberry T Rex cake with green vanilla frosting.” I looked into it and discovered that making an actual strawberry cake is crazy difficult. Even the fancy baking blogs I found were like, “Just use a box mix, trust us.” So that’s what we did. I thought it was a little gummy in the middle, but it clearly it matched Petra’s vision.

I feel like I write this about Petra every year, but while, in some ways, I can’t believe she’s five already, in MORE ways, I can’t believe she’s only five. She’s just on a faster track than most people. I don’t mean academically, but just…personally. She just seems like a much older human than five. Sometimes when she does those lingering preschool things, like throw a fit over her snack or laugh at a person who is upset in that particularly psychopathic toddler sort of way, I get caught off guard as much as I would if a twelve-year-old did it.

The dinosaur obsession is super interesting to me because it’s very different from similar obsessions I’ve witnessed in other kids I have known. Lots of kids her age are into dinos, but it’s usually because they are big and powerful and toothy, like dragons. With Petra, it’s much more coming from a place of deep curiosity about the earth and its age and development. She’s not just interested in the big dinos, but also in things like continental drift (“Why did Pangea no longer survive?”), evolution (Explaining to Silas: “The dinosaurs didn’t just magically transform into birds when the meteor struck. There were dinosaurs that were a tiny bit more like birds than the other dinosaurs, and they survived and had babies, and the babies that were a little more like birds than their brothers and sisters were the ones that survived and had babies, and after a long, long, LONG time, the dinosaurs were birds.”), the fact that the tops of the mountains used to be the bottom of the sea, and even the ancient tiny, insignificant creatures, like gastropods, prehistoric snails, and ammonites. She says, “I have a lot of questions about life long ago,” and that’s very true.

At the same time, she likes fiction about dinosaurs, like books where a kid dinosaur wears sneakers and goes to school or learns to jump rope. She knows that it’s not real, but she thinks those kinds of stories are funny.

Oh, and she makes up freaking adorable songs about dinosaurs (every time she says something mean, cute, or weird, she says the ceiling said it):

I think 5 is going to be a fun year. 🙂


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