The birthday party of a 6 year old’s dreams
Can reality ever meet expectations?
Ada’s birthday is next Monday and she’ll turn six, and already she is a bit glum she is not turning seven. In order to assuage her own feelings, she’s asserted that she’s still “basically two years” older than her little brother, and that her birthday will have a piñata shaped like a watermelon, full of candy, despite it being right after Halloween and there being an excess of sugar coursing through everyone’s bloodstreams.
Last year we had no party (like every other kid) and for her second, third, and fourth birthdays we had modest backyard gatherings with two or three friends and their parents and some balloons and cake. Ada was too young to really care about the concept of a big friend party, despite attending many herself. This year, we were hoping for the same—a modest hangout with a few friends and some wine for the grown-ups—but she insisted on a birthday party with all her classmates.
At first she was going to invite only the girls. Then she was going to invite eight kids of mixed genders. Then as she realized school was still new and her friendships were still forming, she decided the only thing to do was to invite all twenty-five classmates. She got out scissors and neon pink paper and began to make tickets for her birthday party. “November 7th! Ada’s birthday! Lots of fun! Goody bags!,” the wrote, the first indication that goody bags would be a requirement.
The next day she drew a picture with a map showing how to get from her school to the park where we agreed to have the party, adding “treasure hunt! Watermelon! Cupcakes!” The bar was being lifted.
Jacob saw the anxiety this was causing me and agreed to take on the organizing. He emailed all the parents and helped Ada pick out the piñata. He suggested we bring a grill to the park and make some s’mores for everyone on the day-of. He got a few treats to put in goody bags, including, by request, those little pills that you drop in water until baby animals hatch into sponges. He got mini pop-its and slap bracelets and cute rainbow bags to put them in.
Every morning Ada wakes up and draws a new picture about this forthcoming birthday party. Every image becomes more and more elaborate. “This is the rainbow that will be in the sky.” “This is the pile of presents everyone will bring.” “This is the fancy dress that I will wear.” “This is the treasure hunt we will have.” “This is the cake I want with nine layers, sprinkles, and lollipops.” It’s become comically impossible to satisfy the vision.
There is some idiom here about wanting too much and then getting none of it because you’re too preoccupied with what it wasn’t. It’s likely she’ll be overwhelmed by the attention and the excitement. That it can never possibly live up to the unreachable expectations. That the friend she expected to come won’t be able to make it. That she’ll crash on anticipation before the 2 p.m. start time.
When she voices these feelings out loud Julian is usually somewhere in the room playing with his marble run—his prized birthday gift. His 4th birthday has also just passed and we celebrated at home, with grandparents, without all that much fanfare. “But Ada, your party sounds so fun,” he insists, rather reasonably. “I would even like to come.”
She shrivels up her nose, visibly annoyed at her brother’s ability to be happy with exactly what he has, and gets back to drawing her birthday party. This time there are also balloons, and hot chocolate with marshmallows.
Recommendations for the kids:
Hat season: Maison Frida has cute beanies for kids in all different colors.
Read: The newest book from Andrea Beaty + David Roberts (of Ada Twist fame) is out: Aaron Slater, Illustrator. Can’t wait to get a copy for the kids.
The vaccine! For kids!
Textiles: The kids’ programs at the Textile Arts Center. Ada went to a day came there yesterday and loved it, and came home knowing how to weave with a loom.
Kids in the kitchen: This sharp-but-safe knife + peeler set from Opinel for your little sous chefs.
Recommendations for the grown-ups:
Cook: This Thai Red Curry Rice Noodle soup. Add shiitakes, lots of herbs, and plenty of lime juice.
Family holiday photos: If you’re in NYC on Nov 13 + 14, you can sign up for 20 minute sessions with photographer Julia Robbs. She made my shy / grumpy kids light up for the camera and take our first-ever professional family photos.
Decor: Finally found the perfect piece of furniture to tuck the ugly printer under my desk. This Yamazaki Home printer stand is optionally on casters, has paper storage, and is sleek to boot.
Cookbook: Found myself at Books are Magic on my birthday last week, and picked up a copy of That Sounds So Good, Carla Lalli Music’s new cookbook, organized by easy weekday meals, weekend prep + feasts, and sweets. My mouth was watering.
That’s it for this week. Leave a comment, send me a note, recommend something you love back my way. <3