The first step is to penetrate the clouds of deceit and distortion and learn the truth about the world,
then to organize and act to change it. That's never been impossible and never been easy. ~Noam Chomsky

Thursday, August 9, 2012

THREE is the new two!

July 18th is the day we celebrate Ariam's 3rd birthday.

Birthdates are not always recorded in Ethiopia and birthdays often go uncelebrated, particularly in the rural areas. So we have no way of knowing her actual date of birth. I wonder, sometimes, what she will think of this. This not really knowing. But I have come to a place of peace about it for myself. Millions of people around the world do not know their actual date of birth. While we would love to have known our girl from the minute she entered this world, we didn't. Those first six months is a story only her birthmother knows.


The lead up to the celebration was substantial. Ariam's favorite conversation loop revolves around the topic of her birthday.

"When I have a birthday I am going to invite you. And I am going to invite my friends. (Insert a long list of friends' names.) And then I want lemonade at my party. Can we have lemonade? And soda? But is soda a red light food? Maybe we can still have some soda? And water. We need water. And then a cake. Can I have a cake? What color will the frosting be? (Insert rambling description of the colors of frosting she wants.) Will everyone come? How old will I be? I will be FOUR! No FIVE! I am FIVE!" (screaming laughter at her own craaazy joke.)

The birthday loop conversation was so cute at 2.5.

So the big weekend arrived. Family came from out of town. Friends came from far away places like Redstone. My mom and I frosted a lot of cupcakes in multiple frosting colors and styles (as directed by the birthday girl.)

 The  yard was decorated.

Water games and balloons were prepared.

Temporary tattoo station at the ready.

We exterminated for bees (and found at least 15 wasp nests in our eaves.)

And then, despite my screams of of "man your station" to J, my parents and his father, what was supposed to be a multi-station water themed birthday party exploded into a total free for all.

Turns out that 20 preschoolers hopped up on sugar and handed water balloons and water guns are much more powerful than their parental contingent.

Despite the reign of utter chaos, it was just perfect.

While we didn't hire a band, or a clown, or a pony. And we didn't have a giant bouncy house or even a balloon animal "artist." This kind of party still has a financial cost.

I don't imagine it is something most families do every year for their child. Especially larger families.

My mom reminded me a few times that they did not throw big birthday parties for me or for my sister back in the dark ages.

If I thought that it was spoiling Ariam, I wouldn't do it. But if I'm honest with myself, the party is not for her. She'd be just as happy with one friend, a bottle of "red light" soda (red light foods, according to her "Eat Healthy Feel Great" book are those that you should NOT eat or drink, which of course has given them huge amounts of fantasy and mysterious intrigue in her mind), and a can of pink cupcake frosting.

The party is not for her. It is for me. For us. It is a celebration of all that we waited for. All that we waited to be. Every bit of longing I stuff into those party preparations. With every frosted cupcake I am erasing a childless day of my past. Every time we sing happy birthday it is one more year with Ariam, one less year without.