My third birthday is a vivid memory. I was not happy most of the day. I remember all the frenzy my mother and father went through weeks before the celebration. All the stuff my mother bought…Every day there was a new plastic bag with colorful paper, boxes, glitter, and all sorts of prompts. Everyday I looked at the stuff and wonder why was my mother getting all that? What was this new project of hers? Later I discovered it was all for my birthday. My ballerina 3rd birthday that mum and dad planned so carefully.
There were a lot of phone calls and discussions too. When mum and dad started to talk about the cost of the magician and bouncy castle I realized all of that and the plastic bags were for my party…And it was going to be big! That thought made me uneasy. How many people are they going to invite? Who exactly will they invite? What are we going to eat? Were those tuna sandwiches my mum was ordering yesterday at the bakery shop for my party? Seriously?! Tuna sandwiches?! I hate those! Can’t barely tolerate the smell! Of course there will be cake and other type of food I don’t really like and those Brazilian sweets my mother always make, Brigadeiro is the name, hummm… I do not like the taste but those are good to squeeze. I will look for those to calm myself if I need it.
During the next days I tried to get used to the idea of the big ballerina party when I saw my mum cutting and glueing stuff for the decoration, she even called her friends to help. More I thought about it more uncomfortable and anxious I got. I played a lot with mud in the garden those days. It was soothing.
It was also in the same week of my big birthday party that I got this itchy thing in my hair and head. I thought it was an effect of all the anxiety I was feeling but no: I found out later, on a Wednesday, that I’ve got lice. I didn’t know what lice was but I remember Mrs. Luna telling my nanny when she went to pick me up at the therapy center, because apparently kids with lice are not allowed to stay there.
- Carlina, thank you for coming to pick her up I already explained to Mrs Benedita (thats my mum’s name) that Jasmina needs to go home because she has lice.
- Yeah, you know the ones that comes from an egg and makes you scratch your hair.
- oh, piolho!
- Yes… I mean, If that’s the name in your language…
- Oh No! That’s terrible! Her birthday party is in a few days.
- Sorry to hear that. Please do not bring her back before all of that is removed.
Carlina looked at me with the same eyes of that emotion picture from my emotions file… it took me some minutes to be certain, but yeah, those were definitely sorry eyes. She was feeling sorry for me. I think she knew what was coming next: shampoo and fine comb. That’s why she was feeling so sorry.
I got home and my mother didn’t look her normal self. She was upset or angry or both, I am not sure. Her red eyes told me that had been crying.
- I cannot believe you got lice, Jasmina. How did that happen?? We will have to cancel the party!
For a moment I thought I was gonna be saved by the lice but no, she changed her mind.
- No, we can’t. Everything is booked and paid, everyone is invited. We have to get rid of these disgusting little things in your hair.
Then she took me upstairs, undressed me, putted me in the shower and when I was just about to relax in the warm water she touched my hair. I really hate people touching my hair. It hurts. It hurts not only my hair but everything, my entire self. I try very hard to control myself but I cannot help it. It just hurts too much. I try not to cry or shout but I can’t…I just can’t! Some days are better then others but that day it was the worse day ever! I will never forget my mum combing my hair and removing all the lice. The strong smell of the shampoo made me sick. I threw up. My mother stopped. After that she dried my hair and still touched to see if she could see more lice. She saw.
- We have to do it again, Jasmina. I am so sorry. But you still got it. We will do again tomorrow.
I was so tired and drained that I slept as soon as I reached my bed.
Next day, a Thursday, my mum did the shampoo and fine comb again. It was very painful again but I tolerated better this time.
Friday it was my party. Everyone woke up early. My sisters, the triplets were there, doing their baby stuff: crying, eating, playing. My mother was running here and there and telling everyone what to do. My dad was following her instructions but at some point he yelled at her, I don’t remember why and that made her super angry.
The bounce castle was settled. It was huge! I went there to play with my sisters. It was fun jumping there! Hey! I Can jump here the whole day! Maybe I will just stay here the whole party. While I was there jumping the guests started to arrive. Suddenly the house was full, there were way too many people. My mother work colleagues? What? The big kids from the compound! They all came to the bounce castle so I left. My vision started to get blur. I looked for a brigadeiro, found one and squeezed, two, three..
- Jasmina! Stop doing that!
My mother got my arm and took me away from the brigadeiros. This noisy people are hurting my ears! The smell of this cheese is horrible! Stop looking at me people and speaking fast and in Portuguese and some in English. This is too much. My brain is spinning too fast! I can’t take it!
I started to cry and shout, I couldn’t breath properly. I woke up in my bedroom upstairs with my dad looking at me.
- Jasmina. It is time to wake up. We need to sing happy birthday.
I could still hear people laughing and talking, my sisters were crying, maybe it was about their dinner time? How long more will this party last?
- Let’s go sweetheart.
I didn’t want to go. It was so good there. Quiet and peaceful, but my dad asked me so nicely and I know there was no way to escape happy birthday song on my own birthday. So down we went. I took my blanket with me.
Everyone was waiting in front of the table. My mother gave me a big smile when she saw me and I went to her arms. She carried me and my blanket to the front of the table. Everyone sang happy birthday. There were pictures and cake was served. People started to leave.
After some time it was only my family and my mother’s friends. The adults were eating cake and the children playing and eating brigadeiro. Only a boy was there in the bounce castle. Ok. That’s not a problem. I can go and jump there. So I went and jumped for the rest of my party, after that I squeezed the rest of the brigadeiros and my mum pretended she didn’t see it.
I had oatmeal for dinner, my favorite! And that night I played tickles with mum and dad until I got tired (that means we played for a very long time, usually they get tired after 15–20 minutes playing when I am still full of energy). But not that day, that evening we played, and payed, and played. It wasn’t a bad day after all.
Arte: Natália Grego