Ryan will turn six next week. I don’t think he knows.
We’ve certainly talked about it. We’ve showed him the little picture of a birthday cake on his calendar. We’ve tried to coach him to answer the questions “How old are you?” and “How old will you be on your birthday?” though without success.
Stu keeps reminding me that Ryan’s agenda rarely has anything to do with ours, so I shouldn’t get upset that we’ve never had the typical my-birthday-is-coming experience. No anticipation. No begging for presents. No expression of pride in being a year older.
We used to go through the motions of having a party at the ballpit with the kids from his playgroup, and while I guess he enjoyed climbing and eating cake, it’s not like he ever played with his guests. Last year we had a couple of kids over for Ryan to ignore, and a family gathering from which he hid.
This year, we’ve kind of given up, and we’re only having adult family members over; Ryan will not care. Maybe he’ll enjoy his presents, maybe he’ll ignore them. Maybe he will play with his grandparents and aunt and uncle, maybe he will tell them to go away and he’ll play in his closet.
He will not be disappointed.
But I will be.
I keep reminding myself that Ryan is happy – the ridiculous grin on his face when he’s playing by himself should reassure me. But part of me still wants to impose my agenda on him.
I want him to get excited about his birthday.
I want him to dictate a list of friends to invite to a superhero-themed party.
I want him to tell strangers “I’m gonna be SIX on Wednesday!”
I want him to ask us for some super-special toy that I don’t know how to track down.
I want him to get so excited about his birthday cake that he sticks his finger in it and messes up the frosting.
He’s my baby. My only baby. And I want to celebrate. But mostly I want him to care about the same things every typical almost-six-year-old cares about. Maybe some balloons will help