We celebrated Jalen's Birthday yesterday. It was a fairly quiet day at home, spent doing the things he loves and helping him celebrate in his own way. He started out the morning by frosting the cake we'd made the night before. A rectangular, chocolate cake became "spongebob" with some yellow and brown frosting. Sierra and I helped just a bit, but it was mainly his creation.
I couldn't help but think that I can't even remember any of my childhood birthday cakes. They were beautiful creations that my mother made with love, but we were NOT allowed to touch them until the party. Contrast that with the less-than-perfect cakes we have in our family, yet bring so much joy to my children. That was something it took me a while to let go....it's not about the cake (or any other part of the party or ritual) in the end, it's about the child and what brings joy to their world and help them feel celebrated. I wish I'd figured that out sooner.
He was SO incredibly proud of that cake and couldn't wait to share it with everyone. After playing some Neopets, watching more Harry Potter (we've had a Harry Potter movie fest this week, watching the first three repeatedly) and acting out magic with "wands" (aka chopsticks) we finally had Markus arrive home for the celebration. Jalen ran out and started putting the candles on the cake immediately! We did the traditional singing and eating of cake and ice cream, opened his lone present and all of us joined in trying out his new "Fly Wheels" and Nerf gun. Mary stopped by quickly to bring him a gift....he was thrilled with some new Hot Wheels for his growing collection.:)
I made the pizzas while he went off to watch tv with Sierra and play with the new toys. They swirled in and out while I baked and after we all ate, they decided to do "experiments". Jared and Sierra hauled flour up from the basement and cleared the table. They all got involved, Jalen especially loved squishing his hands in flour/water goo. Sierra chose to make something edible and mixed up a batch of cookies, most of which got eaten as dough. The house smelled awesome between pizza and cookies baking!
I went off to check email while they did the flour experimenting....
When I went back out, there was flour all over the floor, the walls, the cupboards and even the fridge! It looked like an explosion had occurred. Well, there was a little explosion named Jalen Kai standing in the middle of the dining room trying to SHAKE the flour goo off his hands. It had the effect of a dog shaking water off, flour goo was FLYING across the room.
I yelled "STOP, don't shake, we'll wash it off!!!" He looked at me like "duh Mom, this is more fun" but at least he stopped.
We got him in the tub after peeling off white, gummy clothing and I dove into the mess. Luckily, Markus was downstairs working out and had no clue that the new house now had a flour facial. I'm much better at dealing with catastrophes, if it's anything other than vomit or diarrhea I figure it's no big deal!
Jared and Sierra are laughing along with me and we all grab rags and start wiping. It was like being in a dream where you are trying to move but nothing happens!! The more we wiped, the more we found. I told them how grateful I was for some extra hands to help get it cleaned up and Jared replies "We wouldn't leave you to deal with this alone Mom!!"
"yeah" Sierra adds. I doubt they'd be as willing to help if I pressed the issue of "clean up after yourself" all the time, rather than just helping them. They're very sweet and offer help from their hearts, not because anyone makes them.
So we did finally get it cleaned up (as far as I can tell, though a flour chunk may be found in the next few months in some bizarre place) and enjoyed Sierra's cookies. She' making crepes today and declared that she might want to be a chef when she gets older. I believe she's already a chef...at least in the Allen household. I could learn to live on cookies and crepes......
So anyway, Jalen is five years old. My little groundhog is growing up fast, I'm glad I get to share the journey with him. There is a picture next to my computer, of Jalen playing with his toes as a wee baby. He looks so content and absorbed, as babies do when they have toes to play with, much like the look on his face when his hands were covered with goo yesterday. He squished and squeezed it, enjoying the texture, a little boy absorbed in the moment. The rhythm and texture of our lives is shaped by these daily events my children create, and invite me into. The mess, the joy, the craziness and calm all a part of that flow we call life.