Today, April 17, my son Rishi celebrates his sixth birthday! This year he chose a dinosaur fossil excavation site as the theme for his cake. Unlike past years, he requested a small party with people in his immediate circle...in other words, mostly family and family friends who visit with him on a regular basis. It’s odd to not experience the full-scale blow out party I usually plan, but this year was particularly exhausting for me as well so I was actually grateful to scale back. The cake part of my business is really taking off and usurping both my time and energy. I have to make a conscious effort to compartmentalize my obligations and not take too much attention away from the kids.
His party on Sunday was fun. It wasn’t his favorite; that would have been the Dinosaur Party last year. That, however, was when he felt very close to his friends at school. We invited his entire class and they had a ball. This year, he was not interested in inviting any school kids....yet another concern for me about his kindergarten adjustment, adaptation ugghhhh.... However, he wanted to make sure that even though he was having a small party, he wanted an “amazing excavation cake” and scary dinosaur cookies to take to school for his friends. Those requests were easy to honor but the no friends from school thing does break my heart a little...especially since I’ve seen him embrace it in the past, I’m sure you can see it too from the pictures of his preschool party last year.
My neighbor Cathy and I had a good laugh when I told her that he requested a “small birthday” this year. We laughed hysterically as we recalled the petting zoo party the year he turned four . It was iconic on our block. The pigs, donkey, bunnies and other animals created quite a scene. Tonnes of neighborhood kids showed up in addition to the 50 kids I had invited. Ironically, Rishi stayed indoors for much of that party. I strictly forbid the opening of any new toys during my kids’ parties but my sister (who had just returned from a European business trip) did not hear my request and she gave him the train set she got from France. He stayed indoors with the set for almost half of the party enamored with his new toy. I was miffed but only briefly. My daughter and the other 100 party guests were having a ball in the “barnyard.” He enjoyed it too once he made it outside but the crowd was unsettling to him at that party... I could tell from his reaction.
The prior year was all about trains, an obsession of his that lasted a good couple of years. My husband and I are now versed in Japanese, French, German, American...all kinds of trains, thanks to my son. I remember waking up on the morning of his third birthday...he was in my room...I know, I know...that’s for another post, another time....but his first words that morning were, “Mommy, I wanted a high speed train and you made me a diesel and a slow train but I really wanted a high speed train.” To you this may sound ungrateful but what I (finally) heard was just him expressing what he had been telling me all week: he wanted a high-speed train cake. I had never made a fancy cake and in fact had been thrilled to find a train mold pan at William-Sonoma because it’s what I used for all the train…I had no idea how to make a high-speed train cake and I should have known better than to think he wouldn’t notice.
So...at 7am, prior to our 11 am party, I raced to Giant’s bakery where the baker gruffly turned me away because he was too busy. I went to Bloom where the bakery was deserted and I ended up and Shopper’s where the baker took pity on me and she trimmed a ready-made pound cake to look like a high-speed train. I was home before 9 am and my friend Danny helped ice and decorate the cake to look like the JR500, one of the high speed trains in Rishi’s train book. The other kids loved the variety of train cakes filled with candy and goodies but the only cake Rishi requested all day was “a piece of the JR 500.” He loved it and it was worth the ridiculous running around. Now I look back and wonder why I never figured out how to make it myself but I guess I wasn’t there yet.
At two he was enthralled with construction vehicles. I remember like it was yesterday how I would take him to construction sites and we would sit there, eat snacks, run around and just watch the machines in action.
And at one, we had a party at home for his family, my in-laws hosted one for their close family and friends and my parents hosted one for their friends (all two hundred of them).