A child’s birthday means party – balloons, funny hats, birthday cake, lots of presents, and at least a dozen kids to scream merrily around. A child’s birthday may look differently, too, and this doesn’t make it a bad day. This was how our son’s fourth birthday looked like, different. Not the usual celebration, no other kids, fewer presents than he got the previous year. But it was a celebration of a happy family. And I haven’t seen our boy that excited for months. Because birthday doesn’t mean presents, nor does it mean a bunch of flowers for the kid’s mother. It means a bunch of emotions.
We still had the balloons and the birthday cake (with his favourite Thomas & Friends on top, of course) but they were just a small part of the whole experience. What his father and I wanted was to make this day special for him, to show him that he was special. I think we succeeded. And I believe this is what a birthday celebration should be all about. Even if it is the grass in the park he is running on and not the children’s centre (all right, we’ve just lost a pair of socks; no detergent would remove these green stains 🙂 ). Even if there are no buddies to play with, and it is only mum and dad. It still can be the perfect birthday.
How could I be so sure about my child’s feelings? Mothers know their children, don’t we? I can see the disappointment on his face, I can feel his sadness, and that day there was no trace of either. It was his special day and he enjoyed it. We didn’t give him an expensive toy, but he gave us the most sincere smile when he saw the Thomas engine balloon. London underground is not the most spectacular place on earth? Well, to a child that doesn’t use it daily it actually is . As a matter of fact, the Tube was part of his parents’ plan for a nice day out. Eating ice-cream sounds too ordinary? Not on his birthday. Ice-cream was another piece of happiness. He was free to do anything he wanted, no scolding, and he behaved so well as almost never before.
Perhaps, he missed his guests, but I am sure he perceives the situation we are in. He is old enough to understand why his birthday is different. He knows we now live in another country and everything has changed – none of our friends and relatives is here and the festivities cannot be as they used to be. He knows that his friends, his cousins and grandmas can’t come from so far away. It’s only three of us – mummy, daddy and himself. Yet, on his first birthday in the UK he was happy.
He is a child and children don’t need big presents to be cheered up. Children need tenderness, their parents’ love, and a million of smiles. They need non-expensive little things hidden behind a parent’s back, and a whole day devoted to them when nothing in the entire world is more significant than themselves.
Yes. Sometimes, birthday doesn’t mean presents. Birthday means the thrill, the lovely experience of being with your dearest, the brightness of a sunny day. This was the fourth birthday of our son. And what a sparkling day it was!