Ryan really cared about his birthday this year. For weeks, even months beforehand he talked about it — mainly about how he’d finally be old enough for a booster seat, but I think he also got into the general party fervor. He mentioned the topic so often that we had to hang up a paper chain, with one link for each day, so that he could see how many days were left and thus theoretically wouldn’t need to ask me. Multiple times every day.
Since he cared, I put in more effort than usual this time. We had an actual sort-of party, in that we invited our playgroup to a park near us. Actually it was pretty much like playgroup as usual: the kids went and played, and the moms hung out with the babies and talked. But in my world, that’s what a birthday party is. Favors? Pinata? Activities? That isn’t what I grew up with. My birthday was heralded each summer by two families coming over for dinner and cake, and to use up the time before dinner we kids were all handed squirt guns and told to stay out of trouble. One year I think there were water balloons too.
My crowning accomplishment this year was the cake. There it is, people: my first ever, honest-to-goodness layer cake, ten inches around and frosted with ganache icing. I knocked this one out of the park. I started by choosing the right recipe — from Smitten Kitchen, the same one I tried last year for Nathan’s birthday. This time I got it right, it came out of the pan, the frosting worked, and I even decorated the thing with chocolate-covered caramels and sprinkles. It was awesome. It was also phenomenally chocolate, which is just another way to spell ‘awesome.’
One would think that, since it was Ryan’s birthday, there’d be a picture of him somewhere in here… but no. Someone with small hands got hold of the camera shortly after we arrived at the park and put their little greasy fingers all over the lens, so the party remained largely undocumented. But the important thing was that Ryan seemed completely satisfied with his birthday, and we appeared to have assuaged (temporarily) his desire for chocolate cake.
The next morning he explained to me his new philosophy on life. “I’m still four,” he told me, “so it’s still my birthday.” With that attitude, he has a very good year ahead of him.