My youngest son turned 4 last weekend and there was celebration to go all around. We traveled to Washington DC where we met up with Uncle Rus, my older brother, and who Adrían refers to as “Uncle Rust.” I’m pretty sure Adrían is not aware of the decrepitude and degradation that such a name implies, but since Uncle ‘Rust’ is my older brother then I will make sure to emphasize those points. As you may imagine, Adrían has been looking forward to his birthday for months. He first imagined it when he lay down to sleep on his third birthday last year. He went to bed that first night of being three years old dreaming of his next party and all the accompanying toys and friends. It was the only way he could succor himself and get to sleep after having such a great 3rd birthday come to a close. When he woke up the next day he was a little remiss to find out that it was not his birthday again, but somehow he persevered and went on with his day. Every now and then throughout the year Adrían would think it was his birthday. This happened most often when he saw a toy on TV or in the store that he really wanted or when it was someone else’s birthday. He insisted his birthday had finally arrived and could he please have all the presents, please, today? Once his real birthday was approaching Adrían beamed every time we mentioned it as he felt a happiness that arose in him. On the day of his birthday I didn’t mention it straight out to see if he would remember. We had just talked about it the night before, of course, and the fact that we were in DC was on account of his birthday and he knew that because for the past week he had been telling everyone – teachers, neighbors, friends of his and friends of ours, and even a few strangers – “I’m going to Washington DC for my birthday!” Kids have that wonderful outlook on the world wherein they believe everyone is intensely interested in their lives. We didn’t disagree with him when he said this although we probably would have visited DC and my brother even if it wasn’t his birthday. The morning of his birthday Adrían did forget all about it and carried on normally through waking up and getting dressed until his older sister finally realized today was the day and told him, “Happy Birthday!” We all yelled and hooted and hollered and he smiled incessantly and turned a little red and we hugged him one by one because he loves hugs so much.
While we had planned a birthday party for Adrían and some of his pals a few days later, we had not really planned anything specific for his actual birthday besides hanging out together. In fact, we hadn’t even got a present. Since we didn’t have a plan we seized on anything and everything we did and this became the birthday plan. For example, we went out to get some breakfast and since Adrían was the birthday boy, he got to choose what he ate. His sister was hoping he would choose a chocolate croissant for breakfast, this opening the Pandora’s box for everyone else, but instead we directed him toward a more healthy choice and wished him happy birthday when he took the first bite. That night we asked Adrían what he wanted for dinner and he said, “Pizza!” so we hit up a pizza shop which turned out to be great and we even ordered a little chocolate cake for dessert that we sang happy birthday over and Adrían blew out all the candles before we got three words into the song. That night in bed Adrían was a little sad that his birthday had come to a close. He wanted the next day to be his birthday again. I realized we had forgot to get him a birthday present but he did not say anything about it. I was happy inside to know that the happiness surrounding his birthday was about more than just presents. We reminded him that his actual birthday was today but that he was going to have a birthday party with his friends two days later. With that he could lay his head down and go to sleep – a happy, brand new, four year old.