You may not understand the Ted Hughes reference in the title here. If I was really clever, I’d write this entry in iambic pentameter. Even so, I can already picture you walking across a manicured college campus with a copy of The Bell Jar tucked in your arm, your blond hair tied in a pony tail and swinging insouciantly. Or is that my wish for you on your fourth birthday?
We celebrated your fourth birthday about a week ago, and I’m proud to say that three of your four birthdays have been held at home (and one was held at a park). I even went so far this year as to not only bake your birthday cake, but to also whip up some homemade icing. Why? I’ve never been incredibly domestic. However, your birthday has always felt like Mother’s Day to me, and perhaps I didn’t want to give pieces of what is special to me to someone else, to some stranger in an apron who would make me the cake of my dreams for under $100. Someone at your party asked me if my little homemade concoction was made at Whole Foods. Praise indeed.
Home birthday parties are a rarity in the New York metropolitan area, which is somewhat understandable given that people live in small cramped spaces. But what your father and I don’t like is the industrialization and commercialization of children’s birthday parties, much like the industrialization and commercialization of weddings, baby showers, and every other big life event. For some weird reason, we’re thrilled to have a bunch of your friends over to tear up our 1,000 square feet of living space. You may not appreciate the fact that your father and I threw you cheap parties at home, but maybe you’ll appreciate it when you’re walking around a college campus carrying around The Bell Jar, eager to discuss your liberal ideals with your musician, philosophy-major boyfriend. Am I getting ahead of myself? After all, you just turned four.
At age four, you’re becoming quite the artist, dancer, and yogi, so maybe a liberal feminist adulthood isn’t such a crazy wish? You love to wear tutus to bed, paint with a paintbrush in both hands, and show your father how he should do a downward dog or a tree pose. You’ve been a delight since the day you were born, and it just keeps getting better. You were an easy baby, and an absolutely joyful little girl. Heaven knows what kind of teenager you will be. You’re a picky eater, however you guzzle down sausage like a lion cub gnawing on a gazelle. You love to set balloons free, and decided after your birthday party to release half of the balloons bobbing around the apartment out on to the deck, where the wind quickly whisked them off to Cliffside Park.
Four is such a great age. I love your curiosity. You’re incredibly persistent. You love to dance in front of the kitchen oven because you can see your reflection. You hate bugs and love banana chocolate chip muffins. You write your name everywhere. You love to travel and willingly take off your Crocs at airport security checkpoints. We never had to worry about maintaining a schedule with you. At age four, you’ve been to Jamaica, Quito, the Galapagos Islands, Seattle, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Maine, and in three weeks, you’ll hop on a plane to fly to DisneyLand, your second trip to the West Coast. At age four, I think I had been to Connecticut and my first trip to the West Coast occurred two months before my 25th birthday when I drove across the country to join your father, who was waiting for me in our new apartment.
So Happy Birthday, my sweet little Anna. I’m already thinking of ways to celebrate your fifth birthday.