Today is the boy’s third birthday. This is a very big deal to him. I can tell because the leading edge of all his learning is centered around his birthday. The first month he learned to say was May. The first numbers he learned were two and, increasingly, three. Some of his best and clearest sentences have to do with telling others that it will be his birthday soon, and that he would like a unicorn for his birthday.
We are going to have a regular-sized party for him on the weekend. He doesn’t have friends of his own, really, so we’re just inviting our friends, especially those with children. We had in the past killed and roasted a goat on his birthday—an overly grand gesture, perhaps–but that seems past our budget and beyond our ability to prepare. I only just arrived on a redeye from California today at 4:50am, and there’s not enough days between here and then to arrange for a big grill or to make contact with our Muslim goat hookups in Trenton.
But it will still, I’m guessing, be a good day. I was looking at some video we shot of his second birthday last week, and what really stands out is how, even before he could talk, you could read a kind full pride on his face, probably for no other reason than the fact that he was the center of attention.
Maybe that is the magic of birthdays. Young children are such natural egotists, but they live in a world that often ignores them or at least misunderstands them. It must be a mighty disconnect, feeling like they are the center of their world and yet observing constantly that that world only sporadically pays them the right attention. The satisfaction of the birthday is the satisfaction of wholeness: their view of themselves finally aligns with the way they are treated. They are adored and feted and fed cupcakes and no one is cross with them and it’s sort of fantastic.
But that’s the weekend. For today, his real birthday, I am taking the day off work. I couldn’t sleep on the redeye, so I will be a bit bleary. But we don’t have a thing to do, besides play and eat some crazy goat-milk caramel lollipops I picked up in the Mission District in SF yesterday.
I could tell you more about my son, but suffice it to say that I’ve missed him while I’ve been away this week, that he is a good kid, and that he deserves all the attention he’ll get. At least for today.