Philip isn’t smiling in this picture, but looking at still makes me smile.
Yesterday, we celebrated Philip’s fifth birthday with a party. Throughout, I pondered whether the party was for Philip or only because of him.
He wasn’t miserable, but I thought he’d be just as happy if I sent everyone away. First, I made him wait to eat because I set the party time when it was convenient for guests and not necessarily for him. Second, he wasn’t interested in opening gifts. He would have been just as content bouncing on his trampoline or relaxing on his own. Philip only nibbled a few pieces of his birthday cake, and that was after we removed all the icing. After cake, Philip wanted to go outside, not at all caring that we had a living room full of guests.
Still, there were several positive moments. Philip liked the Curious George decorations. He sat at the table and examined one of the napkins adorned with the face of his favorite cartoon character, and then, when I put on the table cover, he carefully studied it, too. Of course, when I put out the pizza we served for lunch, Philip only had eyes (and a stomach) for pepperoni. He was intrigued by several of his gifts once they were unwrapped, and he enjoyed playing with several of his cards, too.
It was when we had lit the candles on the cake that I thought the party might have been worth it. Philip walked over and, without prompting, blew out two of the candles. Some people tried to stop him, but I was so proud of him. Through observation, he had learned one of the traditions of a birthday party. And heaven knows that blowing out the candles was an accomplishment that is all his. For several years, I’ve tried to show him how to blow bubbles or to blow dandelions that have gone to seed. Suddenly, early this summer, Philip blew on a pin wheel. He mastered the skill all on his own.
Will we throw a party for Philip’s sixth birthday? I’m not sure. From now on, I’m not going to throw him a party just because that’s what people do. I’ll throw him a party because he wants one.