birthdays in fractions

by bam

today is the midpoint, the halfway-there, the get-out-of-the-car-and-stretch-your-toes, the hard cold wall of the pool before the flip and the long lane of strokes back to the other end, back to the finish line.

especially if you’re 5. and it’s lightyears from one cake with candles to the next. and everyone else in your class has been hauling in cupcakes and 6’s for months. and you’re just barely trudging along. waiting. waiting for six.

today is 182.5 days from 5; 182.5 days ‘til 6. today is my little one’s half birthday.

in our house we are perhaps a little bit nuts. we flutter and flap about birthdays in fractions. even the big people around here note their halves. but the little ones, they get the works: the red plate is set out for breakfast, the champagne flute awaits the orange juice. the cupcakes are baked, the menu is set. my little one wants breakfast for dinner; pancakes and french toast and oatmeal for breakfast. and tonight, he has visions of all of us huddled under blankets, hands in the popcorn bowl, once again watching born free. he specified lights out, everyone on the floor, under the same blanket. even the cat.

when you have birthdays in fractions at our house, you get to dream. you get to pick. you get to spin the lazy susan of choices, grab for the one that speaks loudest to you.

it’s all about being cherished.

children, i’m pretty certain, need to feel cherished. and, lord knows, there are plenty of moments when a child does not feel too cherished. truth is, there are plenty of moments when i as the mama do not feel too cherish-y. i might feel dash-out-the-door, throw in the towel, take this job and tank it, i quit, pink slip submitted. but i don’t. i haven’t. by the grace of God, the litany of sins remains, like jimmy carter, impure thoughts, red flags tossed on the field. no play executed. not yet, anyway.

so when a chance for cherish presents itself, i reach out, i grab, i run for the goal post. seize it, i say. pull out the cupcake tins. bring on the candles. give the boy a whole day to bask.

now all of this might have something to do with the fact that the mama around here was born in the absolute armpit of the year. january 3. a day when not a soul in the world has much air left in the lungs for blowing out candles. they have been huffing and puffing their way through the long breeze of holidays, and one more cake, one more round of candles, just does not fit in the picture. one year, when i was little, when i cared a whole lot about my birthday, someone asked me if it was all right if we just skipped the cake that year.

there will be no skipping cakes for my boys. we will blow candles for one-fourth and three-fourths, if we have to. but it seems halves will suffice.

you’ll excuse me while i scoot off to the kitchen; i’ve got oatmeal and pancakes and le pain francais to get cookin’. i’ve got a boy who has reached the mid-mark and we’ve got some cherishing to cherish.

anybody out there have your own brand of birthday indulgence? little ways to raise up the day? sweet somethings that have been born over the years, been passed down from one mama or papa to the next? please, pull up a chair. do tell.

p.s. you oughta see what we do for whole numbers. oy. let’s just say birthday fairies and crepe paper by the roll are key players. but more on that down the road. this is a day for fractions.