I feel sort of bad writing about the bad things on my birthday after the lovely birthday dinner I just had with the family and the cute/thoughtful gifts they gave me, but here goes.
Wednesday I got up and went upstairs to make the kids' snack for school, and at the top of the stairs was a "Happy Birthday!" sign and some balloons--I loved it because it looks like the one my family puts up every year (except in our house it was for a certain person's 50th birthday so every birthday we tape a piece of paper over with the person's age--Carr family ghetto fabulous). Mark came down (already dressed--yes!) and wished me a happy birthday and gave me a card from the family.
"Happy 23rd Birthday Jill! Best wishes. I hope you have lots of presents!" --Mark
"I weh ywe a happy birthday? Jill (backwards J). Stephanie. (Translation: I wish you a happy birthday Jill)
Very cute and thoughtful and Anna explained that they would really celebrate at our dinner on Friday. As I was helping Stephanie get dressed she started talking about presents. Not presents for me of course, but presents that they thought my dog might like for Christmas (my dog is a big topic of conversation here, both children would like him to come for a visit). After they got on the bus I made myself a lovely breakfast and read through my birthday e-mails--sounds dull but it was seriously great, thank you to everyone by the way. Since it was a Wednesday we had the nanny meeting and I had planned on getting there early (okay well on time) for once to have birthday mimosas. The phone rings at 9:15--its Will. Conversation as follows--my thoughts are in italics:
W: Hi Jill, were you just about to leave?
J: No I'm leaving in about 20 minutes.
W: Perfect, could you send me an e-mail attachment. I guess it didn't work last night.
J: Sure thing. It must be important if he needs it now.
W: Okay just go up and turn on the computer and I'll call back in a minute.
I go up & turn on computer. Finish reading my e-mails. Ten minutes elapse. Shoot I really need to get going, but I'm sure he really needs this. Should I go get ready? I don't want to be downstairs when he calls. I know, I'll go get my stuff and bring it up here, so I'm ready once he calls back. Get dressed, decide not to do my hair (surprise!) because I won't hear the phone ring. Friends at the au pair meeting call/text to see when I'm coming. Put all my stuff by the door so I can run out immediately after.
9:36 realize I won't make the bus. Text Will to see if he still needs e-mail.
9:55 Will calls back, "Sorry got another call." Signs me on to his e-mail and has me attempt to send Mark's Power Point BOOK REPORT. The book report of a 3rd grader? Really? Really?? This is what I waited 40 minutes for? It doesn't work. Will says, "Oh well, thanks for trying. Have a good day." I am now supremely annoyed but I get to the au pair meeting and everyone sings "Happy Birthday" and my wonderful friends even gave me a couple equally wonderful and thoughtful gifts. I go to buy champagne and orange juice (hey I needed a birthday mimosa!) and at the check-out I got carded!!!
Then I realized, wait, you have to be 16 to buy wine/beer in Switzerland. She thought I looked under 16!! Then I thought, is that a good thing or a bad thing?
After the meeting my great friends Kristen & Jen took me to lunch (the Swiss take on Mexican food) which was great. I picked up the kids from French--the wonderful mom of the baby (the turkey lady from last Friday) was surprised and felt terrible that she didn't know it was my birthday--which she made up for by giving me a very generous gift the following day!--and we came home. I got Mark ready for hockey, and Stephanie ready to skate with me and that's when the day started to go downhill. Mark was freaking out because he wanted a hot dog after practice (I know I love hot dogs but a hissy-fit? Over a hot dog?) and Stephanie was just totally wiped and cranky. We skated, had a post-hockey hissy fit because the restaurant was closed so hot dogs weren't even available, and by the time we walked in the door I couldn't wait to get out of there to go meet my friends.
My friends had planned to go out with me and celebrate my birthday and we were going to meet at 8:30--because I figured they'd let me leave at least somewhat early. We walked in and Anna was on her way out to water aerobics class. She said, "I'm sorry you have to work on your birthday." And I smiled and said it was fine because I thought Will would be home momentarily to relieve me so I could leave. Dinner, dishes, shower and pjs and still no Will. I was getting more and more annoyed when the phone finally rings at 8:20. He said Anna would be home around 8:45 (she got home at 9) and his train got in at 9:25 so I could drive the car down and get on the train and he'd drive it up. I couldn't believe it. I didn't think Anna meant "I'm sorry you have to work later than usual, without notice, on your birthday." And to make matters worse Stephanie and Mark were being little shits. I swear that isn't a harsh statement, actually I think it's being rather generous and kind. They were whining and crying, being rude to me and I could not take it. I had already snapped at Mark earlier and told him off for speaking to me like I was stupid and when Stephanie was crying and throwing a hissy fit because she wanted her mom I snapped, "What and I don't want my mom?! At least yours will be home in ten minutes, so BE QUIET."
When you're pissed off on your birthday it's hard to be Susie Sunshine with annoying kids.
I finally got into Zürich at 9:45 and met my friends at the train station. We got a beer and headed to some of our favorite bars. Having au pair friends are great because they don't just listen to you but they can understand and oftentimes tell you a story to make you feel better about your situation. (We also met this very drunk and funny student who studied for two years in Indiana and was a Theta Chi--go dad!) We met up with a friend of one of the girls and his boss but they took us to this great tavern/bar and by the end of the night everyone was speaking French and I was thoroughly enjoying myself (more because of the French, not because of the Swiss wine).
So despite the ups & downs it was a pretty good birthday.
Tonight they took me for dinner (fondue, yumm!) to actually celebrate my birthday. It was up a mountain so we had an incredible view of Lake Zürich and all the Zürich suburbs--it was totally gorgeous. Right as we sat down we had a champagne toast and the fondue was incredible. After we finished eating the lights went down and this Swiss-German song came on and I looked around at Will & Anna who looked very guilty. Although we couldn't understand it when I heard the word "Geburstag" (birthday) I knew this hooplah was for me. They brought out a flaming dessert and the family gave me birthday gifts. The first thing Anna gave me were the cards from my parents, which she said had just arrived today (she said she wasn't hiding them from me). And Stephanie bought me a pair of Swiss flag slippers which she picked out on her own (re: tacky and great). She said, "I wanted you to remember living in Switzerland and remember me too." Makes you forget that only two nights earlier you wanted to throw her out the window. Will & Anna gave me a beautiful pearl bracelet (real I know, thanks to the trick my dad taught me) with a Swiss edelweiss charm on it. And lastly Mark gave me (wait for it dad) a Swiss Army knife!! So now that can go into my purse so it will be complete.
The dinner was great and it was nice to celebrate my birthday but I still don't think it compares to the pizza party in the library last year, or the Absynthe shots on my 21st. I realized that birthdays, no matter how many presents, are only really special when you get to celebrate them with people you really care about.