Today is Akiva’s fifth birthday. Except for the infernal birthday party, it was a great day.
We woke up early, as normal, and let him open his gifts from us right away. He was so excited about the new Lego set and family book that he forgot to ask for his daily dose of screen time. The moods were good all around, despite a little less sleep than usual. (Gideon’s had a cough these past few days and consequently has been sleeping even worse than his normal habit.)
Despite our usual sitter not feeling well, we decided to go to synagogue this morning. We figured it would be too hard to keep Akiva occupied for all those hours before his party — and keep the house cleanish. I’d extracted a compromise from him that he would come to part of the service and spend part of the time in the library. I was feeling very tender toward him and really wanted him near me. The first half of the service, I had Gideon with me in the chapel while Bill and Akiva read in the library. The whole family reunited briefly, but then Gideon got blabby so Bill took him out, and Akiva stayed with me. He sat on my lap for quite a bit, and I was happy.
He’d said that it would be ok to tell people it was his birthday — he’s sometimes shy and I didn’t want to overwhelm him. Everybody at our Temple loves him, so once the word got out, there were lots of good wishes and high fives. At the oneg, we all sang him the birthday song, first in Hebrew, and then in English. (That was probably too much for him; he ended up cowering behind Bill’s leg…)
He stayed with me for the whole Torah study (snacks really help) and then the two of us walked home, as we often do. It was a really lovely walk, and he told me that he felt very grown up chatting with people at the Temple. He said a lot of sweet things which I thought I’d remember forever. As it turns out, I didn’t manage to remember them even till tonight. All I can summon now is the sweetness of walking and talking together.
We got home, had snacks, and hid the fossils for the fossil hunt.
Then the marauding kids arrived. We have a small house and are generally believers in the small birthday party anyway. There were six kids invited, and all showed up. The house quickly was transformed into a place of joyful chaos. There was allegedly a craft project, but only Akiva was really interested in doing it. Then they did the fossil hunt, which lasted all of ten minutes. Then they just ran around like maniacs until the pizzas arrived. They ate the pizza, sang the birthday song (only in English), ate the cupcakes, and then ran around like maniacs some more. Akiva opened his presents, then the kids played with the stuff, and then ran around like maniacs yet some more. They beat the pinata into submission. Then, finally, blessedly, they went home.
I definitely like my son better when he’s not around his friends. Especially one friend in particular, whom I find to be hyper-aggressive, and rude. He says mean things, he is rough with others(especially girls), and he is demanding and imperious. (Of course my perfect angel can be any of those things, but because he is my son, I also know many other sides of him. I only ever seem to see the crude side of this other kid.) At the party, this kid got all stinky with Akiva because Akiva wanted to experiment with his new Lego set (it was definitely Lego day — three new sets!) and the other kid wanted to build the thing on the package cover.
When I asked Akiva later what his highlights and lowlights were from his birthday, he said everything was a highlight, except for that moment at the party where his “friend” was bossing him around about his new toy.
I notice the kids have a very strict rubric about birthday parties, which I attribute to their attending so many more pre-fab parties than I ever did as a kid. (Back in my day, we just asked a couple of friends over, played a while, had cake and ice cream, and that was that. We also walked to school uphill both ways in the freezing cold with our pockets stuffed with hot potatoes, which we later ate for lunch with no condiments. Toughened us up, let me tell you!) About halfway through the party, the guests (led by guess who) started asking me when they were going to get their party bags. Because of our financial position, as well as my general politics, we don’t give out party bags of cheap plastic crap. Last year, we gave out homemade play dough and disposable cameras. This year, I made each kid some personalized dinosaur notecards. They were modest, but I thought they were nice. I’m sure their parents agreed; I’m not so sure the kids were thrilled, especially Mr. Rude. Oh well. I don’t want him in my house again, so I don’t much care what he thought. Much.