This week Eleanore has declared that when she grows up she wants to be a scientist. Last week she turned eight and none of her gifts had ANYTHING to do with science or experiments. If only she'd told me sooner, I whinged to Jonathan. I could have found gifts to really encourage that goal. She didn't have that goal two weeks ago my husband reminded me.
He's right. I distinctly remember her telling someone only a month ago she wanted to be a teacher or swimming instructor. Hence I bought her new swimmers (school swimming lessons this term so that was two birds with one stone) and of course we couldn't go wrong with books.
The milestone of Eleanore turning eight last week was celebrated with family and friends. Yet again we were pleasantly reminded that simple things can be just as fun and memorable as bigger to-dos - which is lucky when life is busy and you find yourself (as I did) waking in the middle of the night fixating on unbought gifts, unmade cakes and unplanned outings.
Baking cakes for classmates allowed the kids in the kitchen (relatively) free reign. Thanks be to cake mixes stashed in the back of the cupboard complete with patty cases and icing decorations. Measuring, mixing and icing were all enthusiastically undertaken by the birthday girl.
Speaking of fickle, a couple of months ago Eleanore wished for a unicorn pillow pet (around the time Mim got her ladybug) - and it was with some self congratulation that I was able to go on line and buy the item that night - safely stashing it high in the cupboard well in advance of the birthday.
Hence my horror when in the last school holidays I overheard Eleanore declaring that she was far "too old" for pillow pets and didn't really like them anyway. You know that moment when parental smugness turns to hopeless inadequacy? Tick.
I agonised for 24 hours over the gift. I didn't have the time to trawl the shops for city lego or who knew what else an eight-year-old might like.
Then I saw my panic for what it was - stupidity.
We gave Ellie the pillow pet. Perhaps she chose not to remember that she'd said she didn't like them - either way, she loves the unicorn and I'm glad I didn't give in to my temporary insanity and sell it on ebay...
A good friend procured for us the latest edition of the cute Alice Miranda books, signed by the author Jacqueline Harvey. An umbrella, Famous Five DVDs and a stash of notebooks (three for $10 from Typo) a sticker book and five sparkly pens made the eight-year-old very happy.
I was also very happy because my chocolate cake (thank you Nigella for another fabulous recipe from your Kitchen book) was absolutely delicious!
So what have I learnt in eight years?
That eight-year-olds are changeable.
That parents need to be flexible, or not, depending on the situation.
That favourite things and aspirations come and go.
And that for many of us, this is a life-long condition!