Birthday Girl


Daria parked in front of Neil and Quinn’s house. Getting out of her car, she opened the back door and got a small package off the seat. As she turned to go toward the house she saw the front door open and a small girl run to her. When the girl reached her Daria almost dropped the package as a pair of arms wrapped around her so tight she couldn’t move.


“A.D. You came.” Quinn said.


When they separated Daria bent down to her niece’s level. “Of course I did. This is your fifth birthday. I wouldn’t miss it for anything.”


Quinn smiled, looking at the package A.D. held, she asked. “Is that for me?”


Nodding, Dariasaid, “It sure is.”




“Cool?” Daria thought. Looking down at her niece she said. “Let’s go inside. I’m sure your party is about ready to start.”


“Not yet.” Quinn said. “But soon.” Taking her aunt’s hand they started toward the house.


When they got to the door, the senior Quinn was waiting on them.


“Hey Daria.”


“Hey Quinn. So when is the party?”


“In about an hour. Kids should start showing up soon.”


Daria gave the package to her niece. “Quinn would you put this where all the other presents will go. You can open it at the party.”


Quinn took the gift, looked up at her mom and asked. “Where is that?”


The senior Quinn smiled and said. “Put it on the coffee table.”


“Okay.” With that the younger Quinn ran into the living room.


Daria looked at her sister. “Speaking of coffee. Do you have some ready?  I really need some caffeine.”


Quinn smiled. “Sure. It’s in the kitchen.”


As the pair walked toward the kitchen, Daria looked around, “Where’s Neil?” she asked.


“He’s at the bakery getting the cake.”


They each fixed their coffee and sat at the table. “So are Mom and Dad coming?” Daria asked.


“They were here yesterday.” Quinn said. “They left last night. Dad had a golf scramble that started early today so they didn’t stay over.”


Daria took a sip and put her cup down.


“At least they showed up. We seldom ever saw our grandparents on our birthdays.”


“True. I just wish they had given Quinn a different present.”


“What did they give her?”


“A video player.”


Daria’s eyes got big.


“Wow. That’s pretty nice.”


Quinn nodded. “Yea. But I’m afraid they’re going to spoil her.”


Daria looked at Quinn.


“Let them. Unless you have another kid this is likely their only chance to ruin a grandchild.”


Quinn looked at Daria and smiled. “I guess you’re right. I just wish they wouldn’t give her such expensive gifts.”


“Just talk to them the next time you see them. They’ll understand.” Daria paused for a second, then said. “I think so anyway.”


Quinn shrugged “I guess.”


Just then, Neil came into the kitchen with a box as big as the table. Quinn and Daria both couldn’t believe the size of the package. Quinn looked at her husband and asked. “Is that the cake?”


Neil looked at the pair. “Uh, yea.”


“It’s huge!” Quinn said.


Neil set the box on the table. “Not really.” He opened the box to reveal a normal sized cake. “The bakery was out of the right size boxes so they had to put it in this one.”


Quinn playfully hit her husband on the arm.


“Don’t scare me like that again.”


Neil grinned. “It was worth a punch to see the look on your face.” Noticing they had company, Neil smiled at their guest. “Hey Daria.”


“Hey Neil.”


Daria and Quinn turned to get a better look at the cake. It was a standard rectangle cake with pink icing and balloons decorating it.


“Nice job.” Quinn said.


“Yea.” Daria agreed. “Birthday cake is a special thing.”


“Yes. It’s a pretty big part of the party.” Quinn agreed.


Daria shook her head. “That’s not what I meant.”


Neil gave Daria a suspicious look. “What do you mean?” he asked.


Daria looked at Neil. “It’s the only food a child can spit on and everyone will still eat.” she said.


Quinn gave her sister a look of complete disgust and uttered “Eww. Daria that’s gross.”


Neil just laughed.


After a second, Neil spoke.


“I have to get going.”


Daria looked at him. “Where to now?” she asked.


“I have to pick up a few kids whose parents couldn’t drop them off.”


Daria nodded. “Oh.”


As Neil went out the door, Daria looked at her sister. “Where’s Quinn?”


Their daughter and niece was nowhere to be seen. “She’s probably upstairs getting dressed for the party.” Quinn said.


“You think we should go looking for her?” Daria asked.


Quinn nodded. “Good idea. It’s too quiet.”


They got up and went upstairs. When they to Quinn’s room Daria started to go inside. As she reached for the knob to open the door, Quinn stopped her.


“She won’t be in there.”


Daria took her hand away from the knob and looked at her sister. “Why?” she asked.


“We’re redoing her room. She’s staying in the guest room until we finish.”






“When did you decide this?”


“We started a week ago but haven’t made much progress. About all we’ve done is get her stuff out of there and cover the big furniture with drop cloths.”


Daria opened the door and peeked inside. Sure enough the room was a mess. All over the floor were plastic sheets and the brushes and rollers were resting next to several gallons of paint. She turned to look at Quinn.


“It looks like you have everything there. What’s the delay?”


Quinn looked up at the ceiling. “Birthday parties, parents visiting, work, day care, and about a billion other things.”


“Oh right. Sorry. So you think Quinn is in the guest room?”




They went down the hall and opened the door. Sure enough there was Quinn standing in the middle of the room stripped down to her underwear surrounded by all her clothes.


The senior Quinn was aghast.


“Young lady what are you doing!?”


Quinn just looked at her mom. “Trying to decide what to wear for the party.” she said.


Daria couldn’t help but be quietly amused at the scene. “Like mother like daughter.” she thought.


The elder Quinn put her hands on her hips and gave her daughter her most stern look.


“Wear the dress Grandma gave you yesterday. I want to send her a picture of you wearing it at the party.”


Quinn looked at her mother. She was properly scolded. Bowing her head, she said, “Yes Maam.”


As if on cue, the doorbell rang. Daria looked at her sister.


“That’s probably one of your guests right now. You take care of this crisis.” she said. “I’ll handle the door until you get down.”


Quinn looked back at her sister. “Thanks.”


Daria went downstairs while Quinn made sure her daughter got dressed.


The party went without incident. There were the usual games and the cake was a hit although nether Daria or her sister ate any. Finally came the time for the presents to be unwrapped. It was the normal assortment of gifts for a young girl. There were a few dolls, a dress or two, and even a little candy. By some quirk the last gift to be opened was Daria’s. When Quinn unwrapped the box she saw a stuffed bear about half her size. Oddly enough it was the only stuffed animal she had received. As she looked at it she said. “A.D. It’s cool.”


“Well when I saw its name tag I had to get it.” Daria said.


Quinn turned to her daughter. “Honey. It has a name tag on it’s on its ear. Do you want me to see what it says for you?”


She handed the bear to her mother who looked at the tag and then handed it back to her. “I think you can read her name by yourself.”


Quinn looked at her mother. She could read only a few words so she wasn’t sure what she meant. When she got the bear back she looked at the tag and smiled. This was definitely a word she knew. “Her name is Quinn. Just like me.” she said.


Daria gave her a little smile. “Yea. I thought you might like that.”


Quinn smiled back at her aunt. “I do. Thanks A.D.”


“You’re welcome.”


Quinn looked at her sister. “That is a nice bear but I can’t believe you bought a stuffed animal. That’s not the normal thing for you to do.”


Nodding, Daria said, “Yea. Well it seems I’ll do anything to make sure my niece is happy and well.”


Smiling at Daria, Quinn looked at her sister and said, “Yea. Neil and I have noticed that.”


After the gifts were unwrapped, the party was pretty much over. Most of the parents picked their children up and Neil left with the rest to deliver them to their homes. Once everyone was gone, Quinn wanted to put her daughter down for a nap while she and Daria cleaned up the mess. Of course the younger Quinn had different ideas. She had never been one to go to bed willingly and this was her special day. Finally she agreed to go to bed if A.D. would stay with her for a while. Daria said she would.


Sneaking a magazine, she went upstairs with her niece. As they lay on the bed in the guest room Daria thumbed through the issue while Quinn lay next to her. After about a half hour Quinn stuck her head in to check on her daughter and sister. As she peeked through the door she was amused to see Daria almost as unconscious as her dozing daughter. Softly she said “Daria?”


Daria looked up at her sister then down at her niece. She put her finger to her lips and said, “Shh. She’s finally asleep.” Carefully she got up to go downstairs to help clean up.


After all the tidying up was done, the pair sat down in the kitchen to rest. Neil had long since returned and, after taking all the trash out, joined them at the table. Looking at his wife, he said. “Well it was a good party.”


Quinn nodded. “It sure was.” Turning to Daria, she said. “Thanks for your help.”


Daria looked at Quinn. “No problem.” Turning her attention to Neil, she said. “Quinn showed me what you guys are doing to the room upstairs.”


Neil smiled. “Yea. It’ll be great if we ever get started.”


“Why didn’t you call me?” Daria asked. “I would have come over and helped.”


“We didn’t want to bother you with this. After all you have been busy with painting your new house and unpacking everything. If anything, after all you’ve done for us, we should be helping you.”


Daria looked back and forth at both of them.


“Jane came in to help me with the painting and the unpacking is happening at my own pace. I could have found time to help you finish one room. After all I did help paint it the first time.”


Quinn looked at Daria. “We appreciate it but it isn’t necessary.” She paused for a second. “So Jane helped?”


Daria nodded. “Yea.”


“So how was it?” Quinn asked.


“The usual job with Jane. She wanted to paint murals in every room. I had to refuse though.”


Neil spoke up. “Why? I though you liked Jane’s paintings.”


Daria turned to Neil.


“I do but I have to think about resale someday. Her art isn’t everyone’s tastes. It would be better for me to keep it in a frame rather than have a fresco.”


Neil laughed. “I guess you’re right.”


Quinn interrupted. “So how is she?”


“Busy.” Daria said. “She’s going back to school to get a teaching degree.”


“Wow!” was all Quinn could say. After she had a second to think about it, she asked. “What made her decide on that?”


Daria looked at her sister.


“She said she enjoyed working with kids. She wants to make it a career.”


Neil spoke up. “I’m impressed.”


Daria nodded. “So am I. Grace is barely a year old and she’s taking on this challenge. It’s not going to be easy. I hope she makes it okay.”


“Me too.” Quinn added. “Tell her good luck for us next time you speak with her.”


“I will.” Daria said.


Neil looked at Daria. “So what are your plans for the rest of the day?”


Daria shrugged her shoulders. “Don’t know. I didn’t think the party would be over so quickly. I forgot we’re dealing with really young kids.”


Just then, the younger Quinn came into where everyone else was. Looking up at everybody, she said. “Hey.”


Suddenly Daria was hit with inspiration. Looking at Quinn, she asked. “Would you mind if I took Quinn to see a movie? It could be another birthday gift.”


The senior Quinn looked at Neil. He nodded. Looking back at Daria, she said. “Okay but take our car. It has her seat already in it. It’s easier if we don’t have to take it out.”


Daria nodded. “Fine.” Looking at her niece she said. “Quinn would you like for the two of us to go see a movie?”


Quinn looked back at A.D. and asked. “You mean a big movie and not one we bring back here?”


“Of course.”


Quinn smiled. “Yes Maam. Let’s go!”


Quinn looked at her daughter.


“Not so fast young lady. First go change into another set of clothes. Then you two can go.”


Quinn looked at her mother.




Young Quinn quickly ran out of the kitchen and upstairs to her current room to change.


As they waited for Quinn to get ready Neil said, “I’m jealous of you two. Ever since Quinn came along we hardly ever get to see a real movie any more.”


Daria looked at Neil and asked. “What do you mean?”


“Well if it’s something we can’t take Quinn to see we usually have to get a sitter and make plans well in advance.” Quinn said. “It’s just is too much effort to do very often.”


“Oh.” Daria said. Thinking for a second she said. “Look. I don’t have any plans tonight. Why don’t I stay here and baby sit Quinn while you two go see a movie, or even two movies.”


Neil and Quinn looked at each other. Finally Quinn spoke. “No that’s okay. It wouldn’t be fair to you. Quinn is quite a handful at bedtime. Even the sitter has a difficult time with her.”


Daria looked at her sister. “Don’t worry. I’ll do whatever you say is necessary. You two go out and have a good time. If there’s a problem I’ll call you.”


They looked at each other again. Finally Neil said. “Okay. It’s a deal.”


Just then, Quinn came down wearing her party dress and a different pair of shoes. Looking up at her aunt, she said. “Okay. I’m ready.”


Her mother laughed. “Young lady you are NOT ready to go. Now get upstairs and change into a pair of shorts right now.”


Quinn bowed her head, said, “Yes Maam.” and went back upstairs. Soon she came down in more comfortable clothing. Neil and Quinn agreed it was appropriate and a few minutes later Daria and the younger Quinn were on their way to the theater.


A few hours later the pair returned. Neil was loading the dishwasher when the two entered the kitchen. Seeing the pair, he asked. “So did you two have a good time.”


Quinn looked up at her dad. “Sure did. It was great.” She paused and smiled. “And I was on my best behavior.”


As Neil looked at her, Daria chuckled. “She said that’s what Quinn told her to be.”


Neil smiled. “Ahh.”


Neil looked at his daughter.


“Why don’t you go upstairs. I’m sure your Mom would like to hear about the movie.”


Quinn said. “Okay.” and ran out of the kitchen in search of her mom.


Daria sat down at the table. As Neil joined her, she asked. “So are you two still going to see a movie?”


“Yea. We’d like to go out to dinner as well. It means we’ll be a little later than we thought.  Is that okay?”


Daria nodded. “Sure. You two go out and have a good time. I’m sure things will be okay here.”


Around 6:30 Neil and Quinn were ready to go. As they prepared to leave, Quinn bent over to talk to her daughter.


“Now you be a good girl and do what A.D. tells you.”


The junior Quinn smiled and said. “I’ll behave.”


Turning to Daria, the senior Quinn spoke. “She’s already had her bath. She can watch TV for another hour then she must go to bed. She’s a little fussy so be firm.”


Neil put his hand on his wife’s shoulder, smiled and said, “Don’t worry. They’ll be fine. Let’s go or we’ll miss our reservation.


Quinn smiled at her husband. “Very well.” she said.


Things went fine at the house. Daria decided to spoil her niece a little and let her stay up an extra half hour. In spite of what Daria had been told, when she said it was bedtime, Quinn didn’t argue and went straight to her room. Later that evening, Daria got a call. Reaching across the arm of the sofa, she picked up the phone and pressed the button.




“Hey Quinn.”


“Everything is fine.”


“She went right to bed. No problem.”


“Not a single bit of protest.”


“I just told her it was bedtime and she went.”


“Well you told her to do what I said. I guess she took it to heart.”


“So how was dinner?”


“And you’re off to see the movie now.”


“You missed the first showing so you’re going to be a little later? No problem. I’m here all night. Just have fun.”


“Yes I’ll call if I need you.”




“Okay. Bye.”




Daria hung up the phone. She wondered what she was going to do. She didn’t want to watch television and couldn’t figure out what else to do. Suddenly she got an idea. Going upstairs she went to Quinn’s room. Looking inside she saw the paint laying on the floor next to the bed. Everything was prepared. All that was needed was to get started. This would be a present for everybody. Going down to her car, she opened the trunk and got out the coveralls she kept in case she ever had to change her tire on the highway again and went back inside.              


It was after 1am when Neil and Quinn returned to the house. As they entered they didn’t see Daria anywhere. Walking through the house they noticed the light to Quinn’s bedroom was on. When they looked inside they were surprised at what they saw.


Daria had managed to paint all the walls with the base coat.  Daria was laying on the drop cloths that covered Quinn’s bed snoozing away. Looking down, they were shocked to see their daughter sitting at the foot of the bed playing with the bear that A.D. had given her earlier in the day. When Quinn saw her parents she put her finger to her lips and said, “Shh. She’s finally asleep.”


The End


As usual Daria belongs to MTV. This was written for my own amusement.