I have never been good at giving presents. I have always had difficulties with choosing - fretting that I might be buying a wrong thing and it will not be appreciated - and besides, I have never felt that I could handle the process of gift giving graciously. This is despite the fact that I love giving presents. I just do it in a very simple manner, as a rule - just hand the things over, and this is it.
While my somewhat awkward manner might be acceptable for adults, I decided that it must be different with my child: I wanted her to feel that her birthday was a very special day.
We watched the wonderful film, My Neighbor Totoro, shortly before her birthday. I knew she would love it, and secretly ordered the toy well in advance. Of course, Madina loved Totoro and kept saying how much she would like a plush toy like that, to sleep with. It was wise to plan ahead as these toys could not be found in Tashkent.
In the morning on Madina' birthday, while she slept, I made a set of cards with Tororos big and small and instructions; they were leading from one room to another. I have been drawing very little in the recent years and my hand is not as steady as it used to be, but I did my best.
They lead from her pillow to the sofa in the living room, then to the bathroom, and to the basket with apples in the balcony; to the bedroom, to the cupboard, and, finally - to the big antique bucket!
And there he was, the Big Gray Totoro, sitting patiently inside the bucket and waiting to be found!
I cannot tell you how happy and excited my daughter was throughout the whole process of searching, and how fascinated she was with the Totoro who appeared in our home in such a magical fashion.
Since then, she has made several sets of similar instruction cards for me: they usually end in the most touching love letters. She is a very good learner. And I keep learning with her, too.