Birthdays are funny things.
Some people push back against getting older and observe their 39th for the fifth time. Some people go all out when they turn the big five oh.
I fall into the camp that sees my birthday as pretty much just another day. I do look forward to cake, but that could pretty much describe any day when a cake makes an entrance.
The birthdays of my kids, though, are very different. Those are not just another day–those are great days.
This year the twins celebrated their birthdays on the last day of a week together. It’s the first of several weeks that we will spend together this summer.
The week started with a wonderful train trip, just the twins and me. It has been a long time since I took Rachel and Daniel on the train. They were still in their stroller the last time. Daniel had a few anxious seconds getting on the train and was a little wary sitting in the station. He made his displeased noise for a few heartbeats when we started to move…and then he enjoyed the ride.
Rachel was delighted to be on the train. She was armed with her Marvel Encyclopedia, which is monstrously heavy. That kept her occupied when she wasn’t looking out the window and marvelling at being on the upper deck of the car. I could never do her justice in describing her excitement as the CN Tower got closer and closer. I saw that building daily for years and I hadn’t looked at it with such awe in a very, very long time.
Riding back they were old pros. Well, except for Rachel saying “bye CN Tower.”
The week was full of summery stuff: parks, pools, chips, ice cream and staying up late. I have to thank Netflix for having all of the X-Men animated episodes for that.
When Friday rolled around, it was all about the birthday.
I often wonder how Daniel processes something like his birthday. There are new things to unwrap with lots of attention focussed on him, often cameras flashing, too.
Rachel is much easier to read. She loves the presents, the cakes, the cards, the people and being the centre of attention.
I love getting just the right present. This year was a little leaner than many birthdays, but I knew that both of the twins were going to get wheels early on. Rachel was going to get a scooter because I had seen her playing around on one that belonged to one of Small but Kinda Mighty‘s boys. Daniel’s presents usually require a bit more thought, but I was pretty sure a bicycle was going to be a good choice.
Once upon a time we had two bikes, both formerly loved by other children. Daniel didn’t show much interest in them and quickly grew out of them. Rachel loves to ride hers. We make a funny looking sight going to the park or just around the block with Rachel on her bike asking for a push to get started. I am walking with my arm around Daniel’s shoulder, hand on his chest usually because he asked me to do that, while Daniel has his baby Mickey Mouse stuffed toy in one of his hands. People usually smile when they see us coming. It makes me smile.
Recently Daniel has decided to test out Rachel’s bike. He will sit on it and push off, even pedal a bit.
There is something very nostalgic about seeing a kid get a bike for a present. I am not sure if I bought it so that I could see my son riding a bike or if I got it just for him. Whatever the case, when I brought it into the backyard and said “happy birthday” he got right on. After he helped me put the training wheels on, he got back on and started to pedal. It was a lovely scene.
Our original plan was to go to the beach, but threatening grey clouds encouraged us to pick the indoor play gym. Those, along with lights in the fridge, may be the best inventions ever.
With dinner and cake out of the way, it was time to relax. Rachel had another idea.
“I want to put on ‘Bobs and Lolo‘ and dance.” What dad could refuse that?
While the CD played we didn’t think about time ticking down to the end of our week. We just danced and sang along to ‘Action Packed,’ which has been a favourite for years. There’s one song, ‘Something Special’ that I defy any dad to listen to and not get a little choked up. It’s even more delightful when Rachel sings it to Daniel.
We danced and I saw such pure happiness and love in Rachel’s face. I imagined for as long as the CD played that I wasn’t an awkward dancer, but my little girl’s favourite partner.
It was such a lovely way to find out just how happy the birthday was.