London - Baby Mabel is one today. She can stand up on her own, tiptoe a few steps unaided and swallow a small Lego animal whole. She has nine teeth, cheeks softer than a pink marshmallow and eyelashes that are resolutely ginger from root to tip.
The fourth and final Candy baby is a ray of red-headed sunshine and we are all smitten.
So we’ve planned an extravagant celebration of her milestone birthday. Face painters, a grown woman in a wig dressed as Cinderella, and a small pony trotting through the front room as 100 balloons are released from the bouncy castle on the roof.
And I’m just measuring the kitchen to see if all the Teletubbies will fit into it.
But it’s all worth it, as you’re only one once, aren’t you? And babies love birthdays, don’t they?
Actually, that was a lie. We’re doing nothing. Yes that’s right, nothing (don’t tell Mumsnet).
I’ve bought a helium balloon in the shape of the number one and I may have time after work to get a Colin The Caterpillar cake from Marks & Spencer for the benefit of her siblings, but that’s it on the birthday party front.
Do correct me if I am wrong, but I don’t think Mabel actually knows she’s one.
Judging by her extremely sunny and carefree disposition, I’d conclude Mabel thinks every day is her birthday (oh, to be like Mabel). So I don’t believe there is any point throwing a party to rival the Queen’s Jubilee.
If we did, it would be for our benefit rather than Mabel’s, wouldn’t it? It’s not like she’s on Facebook, updating her status every five minutes. To quote a website I found that advises you how to hold a party for babies (yes, there is such a thing), her “social network will be small at this age”.
Peer-group pressure doesn’t normally affect me, but each time I’ve mentioned that Mabel is turning one, everyone - relatives, colleagues, mums at the school gate - has demanded to know what kind of party we’re having.
When I reply “we’re not” they looked so surprised I am beginning to wonder if I’ve accidentally said something unbelievable - “I’m in love with Boris Johnson”, perhaps.
It seems there is a huge expectation that we will celebrate this step from babyhood to toddlerdom.
Obviously, we’ll blow out candles and take some pictures (I’m not a killjoy), but it’s not like a 21st or a 50th, is it?
There’s no point getting Mabel presents, as she has three siblings worth of hand-me-down toys to get through - and she prefers to play with the box of house keys, to be honest.
So what will we do?
Gracie-in-the-middle suggested Mabel may like some Sellotape or scissors (Gracie’s favourite things), the eldest offered a plastic horse she got free with a magazine and the boy said we should take her to school more often, because she gets loads of attention from older children (especially girls) at the school gate. And she likes this a lot.
I decided that maybe we’ll just let Mabel spend her special day in the way I used to spend my special day before having four children - doing exactly what I wanted.
For Mabel, this would include pulling the dog’s tail when he least expected it, eating the dog’s biscuits (which she always secretly tries to steal from the bowl), being allowed to yank my earrings out when I cuddle her and stretch the handles of my glasses as wide as she can after she’s taken them off the top of my head.
And, also, going head-first down the stairs, systematically emptying all the kitchen and bathroom cupboards and be carried around non-stop all day without being put down on her own once.
This is the perfect day for Mabel, especially if you throw in 18 pints of milk, no nap and not having to wear socks or a hat.
She’ll be in her element and we can save the money for her second birthday, which we will definitely throw a party for. Mr Tumble is already booked. - Daily Mail