So, no pictures today. Because WE ARE ON HOLIDAY!
Remember, I mentioned how we were going to take Stinkerbelle to visit her Grammy and Grandad and aunties and uncles and cousins, as a birthday surprise? That we had planned everything without mentioning a word to her, so we could surprise her?
Well, our plan went PERFECTLY.
Yesterday, Stinkerbelle went to school, as normal, and while she was away, BDH and I packed our suitcases and carry-ons and got ready for a week away. Meanwhile, at school, the teachers (who knew she was going to be away on Surprise!Trip), were having a birthday party for her! So when BDH picked her up from school, Stinkerbelle declared it the Best Day Ever.
She had no idea what was in store. So on the ride home from school, they picked up some take-out burgers, and over lunch, we asked That Girl if she’d like to go on an ADVENTURE.
Of course she did!
We said we should probably take a BUS on our adventure, because we’d never gone anywhere on a bus before, and Stinkerbelle agreed. We also thought we should have backpacks for our adventure, and the suitcases we said were bags full of “adventure gear”, just like she sees on Zoboomafoo. So when the Airport Transit van came to pick us up, she just got right in, no question.
Apparently, she thought the adventure should be exploring a cave, and she told everyone that that was where we were going. Thus, as we rode the hour and a bit to the airport, she was growing increasingly more peevish and complaining about the lack of caves.
Until she saw the airport, that is, where she put the cave idea aside for a little while, and asked if we could go look at some planes. We thought that was a good adventure. So in we went.
All the way along, BDH had been quietly telling people — teachers, transit drivers, airline staff — that this trip was a surprise for Stinkerbelle’s birthday, and it was quite unexpected and quite lovely that people had been going out of their way to help play along with the plan. So, at the airport check in counter, where they offered to “take care of” our “adventure bags” for a little while, the lovely staffer asked if we’d like to go for a plane ride. Stinkerbelle OF COURSE said yes. So she printed off a “boarding pass” for That Girl, and a “baggage tag” for her giraffe backpack (with Stinkerbelle’s name and big hearts written on it) and off we went.
We got on the plane, and once again BDH mentioned, on the sly to the flight crew, what our plan was. They immediately played along. One, named Maureen, bought chips and pop for Stinkerbelle from the snack cart, which was a treat. And then she asked That Girl if she would like to help her out by being a Junior Flight Attendant.
OF COURSE SHE WOULD!!
They took Stinkerbelle to the galley, and they made an announcement — that this flight had a Very Special Guest on board, named Stinkerbelle, and it was her 5th birthday next week, and she was going to be a Junior Flight Attendant today. Then, they got That Girl dressed up in a little WestJet apron and some gloves, and she helped Maureen go up the aisle and collect all the trash from the snack service. All the way along, passengers were fussing on That Girl, saying what a good helper she was, wishing her a Happy Birthday… and one, who owned a McDonalds, even gave her coupons for free burgers!
Stinkerbelle was BEYOND thrilled. She was beaming. Three things she loves — being social, helping tidy up, and being the centre of attention — were making this the Best Day Ever. She loved it.
But it was not done yet. At the end of the flight, once we were at the gate, Maureen said that Stinkerbelle could go up and sit with the pilot. So off she went, where the pilot fired up the plane again so all the lights and dials would come on. He got her to pull on the steering and turn it and so on, and took pictures, and she had a grand time.
But that was the end of the flight, and so we said perhaps we’d get a bus home, and maybe have some supper and watch some Doctor Who. Stinkerbelle thought that was an excellent idea. So she hugged Maureen, said thank you to the other flight staff, and high-fived the pilot, and off we went out into the airport.
Now, for all Stinkerbelle knows, an airport is an airport is an airport. She doesn’t know between Hamilton or Toronto or Halifax. So as we walked through the airport, after getting off the plane, she thought we were on our way to get a bus home. And, as we went down the escalator, BDH had the video camera out and interviewed her about her day’s adventure.
She had no idea who was awaiting her at the bottom of the escalator, and it was only once we got through the doors and into the baggage claim that she saw her Grammy and her Uncle Mike that the jig was up. She ran, ecstatic, into Grammy’s arms, for big hugs, and then hopped and danced with excitement that WE WERE VISITING GRAMMY AND GRANDAD!!
She had had NO IDEA. Not a one. We had pulled it off. And it was the Best Almost-Birthday Surprise Ever.
Although her birthday is still a few days away, I hope she loved her present. And although the trip home will likely not be as magical, I hope she’ll be able to remember this particular birthday for years to come..