Today is the 31st birthday celebration I have had for one of my children. That's a lot of melted wax on cakes and tiny plastic toy pieces and special strange meals. My infant and only female child turned nine years old today, going into the last year of single digits we will see 'round these parts for a long time. A LONG LONG LONG TIME, YOU HEAR ME, KIDS? Snapshot moments of the day:

5:23AM: "Mom, get up! We have to go in early!" "NOT THIS EARLY UGHHHH GO BACK TO BED."

6:17AM: "Mom?" "NO. I'LL LET YOU KNOW."

6:56AM: I wake up, remembering I was going to give her some new clothes to wear to school today as one of her presents, a dress with the word "music" all over it. I go into her room. She is totally asleep. I wake her. She loves the dress.

7:30AM: They leave to go into Safeway to buy 25 donuts to take into her school for a special treat. Years ago, I would have insisted on bringing a healthier birthday food for her classmates. Now? Donuts, whatever, go to town, kid. It's your birthday. Childhood is ridiculously short.

10:37AM: I bake a pan of brownies, the requested birthday dessert instead of a cake. Just as well, because I excel at brownies and totally do not do so well with cakes. You don't want a cake baked by me.

12:43PM: My mother calls and has more ideas what to get her for her birthday, even though she has already sent a huge box of stuff and a card with generous cash. I tell her we are good, and thank her.

2PM: A mad dash to wrap presents. They look like Frankenstein packages, with overused gift bags and wadded tissue paper and poorly-cut and taped birthday sheet wrap. I know she will not notice the difference between this effort or if I spent an hour lovingly curling multi-colored ribbons. I am not entirely sure that any child even sees present wrapping at all before they rip it to giddy shreds.

3:40PM: School pick-up. Everyone yells "Happy Birthday!" as she gets in the car. There are no leftover donuts, imagine that.

4:10PM: I tell her to do her homework. She says, "But it's my birthday!" Aiight.

4:53PM: Her grandparents call to wish her a happy birthday. I remember when you had to prompt her to be conversational. Now, she speaks like a regular human, which is really nice.

6:35PM: Off to the chosen birthday dinner spot, a large conveyor-belt sushi restaurant. She plows through plates of tuna, edamame, spring rolls, gyozas, salmon, and a Sprite. I have a large house sake, and recall at the table that I have had nothing but coffee the whole day. I eat.

7:10PM: On the way back home in the car, we tell stories of what the kids were like when they were young. The kids howl with laughter hearing the tale of when she kicked out an electrical outlet and peed on the school floor because she was mad that another kid got her crayons. I tell them how pleased I am that I don't get those kinds of calls from the school anymore.

7:30PM: The presents are opened. She is happy.

8:10PM: A number "9" and nine candles are stuck on the brownies in the pan from this morning. The candles are set on fire and a birthday song is sung. The brownies are awesome. We each have two.

8:39PM: Bedtime for MissNine. And Nine is Just Fine.