Thursday, March 05, 2009

I Love Birthdays

I love birthdays.

Sweet Goddess, the absolute least that each of us deserves is one day -- one day! -- out of 365 that's devoted entirely to us. One day where we reflect upon what a gift it is to be born into this world of sonatas and trees and fountains and orgasms and wine and austere poetry. One day where the people who love us show up and say, "I'm glad that you were born." I love cakes, and gifts in perfect paper and beautiful bows, and champagne, and balloons, and flowers, and silly cards.

I've been thinking all day about birthdays. Yesterday was G/Son's third birthday. He iChatted me and couldn't wait to tell me, "I'm three! (/Universal Sign of Toddler Holding Up Three Fingers)." He and DiL had made chocolate chip cookies and his 'rents put a candle in the cookies (the "real" party, w the Batman cake, is this weekend). Then his 'rents, a sister witch who was over at my house, and I sang "Happy Birthday" to G/Son. (Hecate: "Hold that v witchy thought. I have to take this call and sing Happy Birthday to my G/Son!" Sister Witch: "No problem.")

We do that, in this country. When it's your birthday, we sing a song for you. For many of us, it's the only time all year that we stand still and have a song sung to us. And, that's mostly what I've been thinking about. It's such an unusual thing, in this culture, to have to do. To have to stand there and receive the intense, sudden, focused, musical attention of a group of people.

Last year, we took G/Son to a Mexican restaurant on the day of his actual (aka not the weekend when the big party was) B/Day. The waiters and waitresses came over w a piece of cake w a candle in it and sang "Happy B/Day" to G/Son. Last year, at two, he broke into tears. Too much attention, too many people focused on him, no context for how to handle all that sudden intensity.

This year, what happened was so sweet to me. I've been telling G/Son for a few weeks that people would be singing to him, and he's been to some friends' B/Day parties to watch what happens. We've practiced it a few times. So, this year, he was ready for us. I watched him so closely. He clasped his little hands in front of him and he had the sweetest, expectant, but, also, tolerant, expression on his little face while we sang to him. Part of it was waiting to get to the part where he got to blow out the candle, but part of it was also a deep willingness to receive the attention inherent in a group of older people all singing a song to him. At the moment, G/Son seemed to me both brave and vulnerable, both tolerant and timid. He seemed to be growing up.

All day, while I wrote about directorates and sat in meetings and took conference calls, I kept coming back to that benevolent look, those tiny clasped hands, that gentle acceptance, the wonderful gift of that little man being willing to be the focus of attention.

/Sigh. I've done this before; pulled out the strings of my heart and handed them to a little boy who needed to take the thread and go walkabout. I can do it again. I always knew that I would come this way. But like the Zen master, yesterday, I did not know that it would be today.


clymela said...

I love you-really. This is wonderful this intimate description of your little guy growing up with love and wisdom all around him. Your love for your grandson warms me as I read your words in the room with my giant grandson who was little not so long ago.
AND I love the photo of the magical birthday cake.

Hecate said...

Thanks, clymela. Don't forget to email me at with the 3 tarot cards you picked.

Mama Kelly said...

You moved me to tears. This story was so sweet and your words so vulnerable.

You make me look forward to being a grandma (in 10-15 years or so) very very much.

Blessings to your grandson, may his 4th year of life be full of amazing wonders.

Persephone said...

I really miss my boys being three. It is such an incredible age.

Livia Indica said...

I'm told that when I was little I would cry and run away from my birthday party because I couldn't bear the attention. Now I know I'm not the only soul painfully unaccustomed to such a thing.

Inanna said...

"I've done this before; pulled out the strings of my heart and handed them to a little boy who needed to take the thread and go walkabout."

Oh dear, I'm afraid I've gone and done this, too. Thank you for your description. And how wonderful of you to prepare your grandson for his moment.