It’s hard to know what to do on a first birthday that will make it a special day for the celebrant, but I think we got it right. As usual, Jenny deserves the credit for decorations, refreshments, and gifts, although Elena assisted with choosing and wrapping gifts. She also helped unwrap several of the presents, but Roman didn’t seem to mind. On the big day, Roman awoke to find balloons strewn about the apartment, conveniently placed on the floor and not stuck to anything, making it easy for him and all of us to play with them. He unwrapped presents right away, and although he liked each one better than the last, after a week of observation and reflection, the football (soccer ball) is emerging as a favorite. That’s good, because when I need to distract him or move him out of my way I can ask him to go find his soccer ball, and he usually rushes off in search of it.
There wasn’t an obvious choice for a birthday dinner–with Roman, it’s hard enough to find something that he’ll eat at all, much less something that he loves–so Jenny opted to prepare a pigs in blankets, because they’re fun and festive and Roman always eats hot dogs. The traditional British pig in a blanket is a sausage wrapped in bacon, but ours were American-style with a twist: hot dogs wrapped in crescent rolls and slices of cheese. That’s the kind of food that puts a smile on everyone’s face.
After dinner, friends joined us for cake and ice cream. Jenny had wanted to make a cupcake cake for a long time, and used this as her opportunity. My main contribution to the festivities was that I made the cupcakes, but then Jenny applied her expert skill in unifying them under a beautiful shared frosting cover. Roman made a good effort to eat some cupcake and chocolate ice cream, but didn’t eat them very fast and was soon distracted by the crowd of sugared up older children, and didn’t want to finish his cake before he could join them. Our apartment only has one common area, and the adults had claimed it for our conversation, so we allowed the kids to play in our bedroom. Roman eventually found his way in there, and at least one time I heard Elena say “Daddy, he’s ruining our party!” I reminded her that it was his party, although she was probably referring to the impromptu tea party that had sprung up in the course of playtime. Roman seemed so happy in there with all the big kids, rolling around on our bed while they all carried on, largely unaware of his presence. He’ll never remember this day, but I hope it was a happy one for him. I hope we have many happy birthdays in the years to come, when he’ll be able to remember more about them.