This is the year she gets a second digit.

For her 10-year-old birthday party, Veronica said she wanted to have people to our house and the party should be fancy.

Fancy? What does that mean?

Well, everyone should wear a fancy costume, whatever they wanted. And there should be fancy food.

“Do you want caviar?”

Once I explained what it was, “Definitely not. But I love shrimp! We should have that.”

“I can make that for you, but your friends might like something else. I could make a red carpet for you.”

“That would be awesome!”

Fancy clothes. Fancy food.

But that week, I didn’t have any time to do all the preparation I’d meant to do. My house was a mess, and I’d been up since four AM dealing with a different crisis.

I’d bought some red plastic to be a carpet. So as I shoveled out the piles of mess from my house, made the shopping list of essentials and tried to figure out how to keep the red plastic flat so it could be walked on, I considered what fancy was supposed to be.

Red carpet is what celebrities and movie stars walk on. They dress up and strike a pose.

Fancy food and drink is basic to any party or celebration. But all the birthday parties before had paper plates with bright pictures on them. Some toy or cartoon character wishing the birthday girl a happy birthday.

In that moment, I felt the opposite of fancy. Sleep deprived, and pretty sure I’d failed my daughter in her request. I’d done so little!

I sponged off the glass table outside where the food would be, and put the toys in their places. I had barely enough time to do that much.

Chris did the grocery run for the cake and the children’s champagne- Martinelli’s Cider. I didn’t have time to get the paper plates and napkins that kid birthday parties are supposed to have.

But this was fancy, right? We’d have to use our ordinary breakable dishes.

And we could bring down the stemware. I’d have to trust these kids, but I think we could deal with a broken glass if necessary.

As the kids trickled in–and there weren’t too many of them–they enjoyed the red carpet. Their interpretation of fancy clothes was charming, and kid elegant. Once they’d all arrived and investigated everything, they clamored for the champagne.

We popped the Martinelli’s, and it dramatically bubbled over the side.

I gave each of them a stemware glass and filled it. I explained that this is fancy, and that these were glasses you had to sit with. No running with the fancy glasses.

They were sobered, and before they took their sips, I invited them to make toasts. They each made a toast, the youngest saying “I wish Veronica a happy year, this first year of having two digits. Amen”

And they clinked their glasses, holding the wobbly glasses in their laps for a moment.

It was when they were eating the lunch, Veronica with her shrimp and the rest with their requested sandwiches, I saw this for what it was.

These friends had been with Veronica since kindergarten. There is no insecurity amongst them. Love, trust and friendship.

A group of friends around a table enjoying the finest things in life- that is the archetype of sophistication at any age.