When it comes to birthdays, there are two things I think the day should be: Simple and Special. The Simple is especially important when children are still very little and can become easily overwhelmed. For Simon’s first birthday, we knew something small, with just family, and at home was key. The Special was secondary, and came in the form of decorating the kitchen, and having a special cake.
Some people expressed to me later that they felt left out by our small gathering, and they wished they could have joined us. So, this year for Simon’s second, I decided to have the gathering outdoors, invite more people, but still try to keep it simple. No party games, no schedule of events, no elaborate buffets. Just fresh air, bright colors, good people, and basic snacks. Instead of goodie bags I put out sheets of stickers and party hats. Instead of spending hours molding dinosaurs by hand out of fondant to put atop the cake, I bought little toy dinosaurs. Instead of sewing a handmade banner, I made one out of colorful paper and yarn. I tried to keep it easy yet festive.
Well, things went mostly smoothly. There were a lot of cancellations and declined invites. A lot of them. People had other things going on in their daily lives, and this I totally understand. I tried to just roll with it and hope that the two other kids who actually did come weren’t bored for lack of other children to play with.
Also, Simon was sick. Poor guy has had a lot of respiratory problems in his two years, which we are hoping to finally get to the bottom of soon. He was having one of his bouts with coughing and wheezing on the day of his party, and we almost cancelled. But, we had lots of cake, people on the way, and the hope that if we just took things easy it would be ok. Unfortunately, before he could even take a bite of cake, Simon coughed so hard he threw up. My heart sunk for my poor baby, and I felt guilty about trying to do this little party when he wasn’t feeling well. Again, I told myself to roll with the punches, and took a deep breath, brought him inside to wash up, and then carried on. The tale of the birthday when he barfed will make for a funny story someday. Perhaps.
Other than those two things, the day really was lovely. The weather could not have been more perfect for us to be outdoors, and people were smiling and seemed to be enjoying the day. And when my Mother-in-law brought out the tricycle she bought for Simon, his face lit up and he made a beeline for it, exclaiming: “A Bite, a bite!!” (Bite=Bike).
Simple and Special.