“Most of us can remember a time when a birthday – especially if it was one’s own – brightened the world as if a second sun has risen.” Robert Staughton Lynd
Birthdays when I was a child meant 5 things were sure to happen:
a. you got to wear a brand new dress,
b. everyone had to be very nice to you all day long,
c. you carried a box of chocolates to school to distribute in class,
d. you demonstrated the depth of special friendships by handing out extra chocolates to the select few,
e. and mom worked the entire day making goodies for the evening party.
I carry on the tradition with my daughter – including a few extra ones like standing in front of the growth chart and marking her height, a month-long discussion regarding which favorite character gets to be on the cake, putting extra money in church that week almost as a sign to give extra thanks for our blessings so far. I make it a huge deal, long before the birthday arrives so the memories last longer too.
Mini Me loves birthdays. Well, who doesn’t? So many things to love – the cake that get more creative by the year, balloons, games, normally-not-allowed salty chips, the-infrequent-luxury cola, mysterious return gifts and adults who seem to have an unsaid rule that everyone MUST be happy for the 2 hours during the party.
Cut to 2017 toddler birthday party: The cake was a work of art.Two tiers of moist chocolate covered in pink fondant with a doll standing atop it, in an elaborately iced outfit, surrounded by tall pillars decked with stars. It was so pretty it seemed a pity to cut it up. The candle that stood on the side, opened out like a flower and refused to get blown out despite 20 children blowing (practically spitting) all over it. The birthday girl was dressed up in his very best (thankfully not in one of those ridiculously uncomfortable gowns that always seem highly flammable to me!), the parents were such good hosts and the event manager was rushing around trying to make kids happy.
As the mother tried to get everyone huddled together around the cake, tiny fingers secretly swiped some icing to lick. Mini Me kept tugging at my hand “I want a star, I want a star” . I wondered how I would fulfill this demand considering I was now competing with another 15 children all of whom wanted 1 of the 5 stars and tried to hedge my risk by enticing her to also consider other parts of the cake. I consoled myself that there wasn’t going to be a pinata involved – I never liked that it was based on the theory of ‘who can grab faster than the other’.
After the party and the excitement of tearing open the return gifts, Mini Me lay in bed with me and said “I also want a cake with a doll and star lollies Mama. I want Ben and Holly on my cake” she said. “Ok” I smiled. After a few mins “Mama, I want Peppa pig on my cake” ….and a few mins late “Mama, I think I want Spongebob also on my cake”…..and so it went on till we reached dreamland. She must have been dreaming about how many characters she could add to the cake without converting it into a zoo, while I was dreaming about how I would plan up another successful birthday she would remember fondly through the rest of the year.