When I was a kid I hated birthdays. Or maybe I just expected too much of them. Either way, I would inevitably spend some part of my birthday crying myself stupid. Yeah, I am pretty sure that part of the problem was that I am an only child and my parents made a big deal out of birthdays in general and me in particular, which tends to give a person an inflated idea of their own importance. But I really did have some crappy birthdays.
One year, my parents arranged for us to take a bunch of kids from my class to the new sports complex in our neighbourhood. It had just opened a few months before and was the ‘coolest’ place to have a birthday. My friends were so excited – one girl in particular who I really wanted to be better friends with was super psyched about it. I was ecstatic – this was my chance to seriously up my social standing (the third grade social hierarchy is brutal). The big day arrived, all my friends had gathered at my house before going to the pool. Right before leaving, my mom calls the pool to figure out where to drop off the cake – and disaster strikes. They were very sorry to inform us that the pool was actually closed for cleaning this week – they must have made a mistake with the booking. And with that, my chance for advancing my social position flew right out the door. Literally. In tears. I haven’t heard from her since.
Sure, this isn’t all that bad – there are plenty of worse ways to spend a birthday. But to a seven year old, this was a traumatic experience. And the rest of my birthdays tended to follow suit – big build up, followed by bigger disappointment. So ever since I’ve been in charge of birthday planning for my own kids, the stress has been overwhelming. I don’t want them to turn into birthday-phobics like me, and I don’t want to turn into one of those crazy moms on Party Mamas . However, after the fiascos we have had with this year’s birthdays, one or both may be inevitable.
The day before Simba’s first birthday my husband got violently ill. I’m talking can’t leave the toilet because you are projectile puking so you end up sleeping in the bathtub sick. Then, while attempting to make a cake from scratch I somehow managed to blow up my mixer. Well, ‘blow up’ might be a bit harsh – ‘tried to mix a hardened up clump of caramel into submission and failed in the attempt’ would probably be more accurate. To top it all off, our scheduled activity for the big day was – you guessed it – swimming. You’d think I would have learned something, eh? After a long night in the bathtub, my husband, who had lost about five pounds but had kept down his breakfast, sucked up his pain and packed us up in the car for swimming. But upon arriving at the pool – guess what? Closed for swim meet.
Less than two months later came Prince’s birthday, which fell on Easter Sunday this year. Because of that it was nearly impossible to get anyone together for a party on his birthday, so we settled for an early party the day before. You should all now be familiar with my post Things I Wish I Knew My Kids Wouldn’t Do Before I Asked Them - Well, you can add Let You Sing Them Happy Birthday to that list. I don’t know if it was because he was still adjusting to the whole no nap thing at the time or if it was just one of those inexplicable moments of payback for making him eat broccoli, but when I brought out the cake that he had been so excited about the day before and we started singing “Happy Birthday” Prince freaked out and started screaming and crying and rolling on the floor. I tried to laugh it off considering that the friends we had over we had only known for all of a few months and I was trying to make a good impression. So we sang happy birthday loud enough to drown out the screaming and then we ate cake. And wouldn’t you know it, the next day we couldn’t get Prince to let us stop singing happy birthday to him. It was all ‘again – again!’ WTF?
I am not sure why the Birthday Gods have it in for me. Maybe it’s payback for the year I found all my presents and opened them before my birthday, but damn it, I was only five. Haven’t I been punished enough? Apparently not. And damn it all, my birthday is coming up next.-Wendy