Beware of the birthday post...
I know it's been a long time, but like I said before I'm really not sure how to handle this. It hurts that our little man is getting old.
When Tenzin was first born, it didn't really hit me that "he was here" until we received his Social Security card. It was odd that that would be the one defining moment that actualized his birth for me but for some reason, getting mail from the government means you really exist. It's a fact of life: recognition by the IRS = taxable American human.
You see, up until that point everything could have been an awesome lucid dream or something. Without notice, Abraham Lincoln could have jumped out from behind my 92 inch plasma TV and offered me (my usual) beer. But no, there's his social security card staring me in the face...the outside world has confirmed it...we made life (and just in case we had any doubts as to whether Tenzin was real or not, the hospital's Accounts Payable department affirmed, reaffirmed, and rereaffirmed Tenzin's existence with copious amounts of correspondence).
So two weeks before the party, still in awe that we were blessed with a child, still in denial that a denial that a year had flown by, we found ourselves at the local party supply store buying decorations for the impending Oktoberfiesta 2007 - a title that most parents, no doubt, reserve for adult gatherings and not their child's first birthday (seriously though, how many of you actually expected this child to be raised normally? You're luck my booby cake was shot down). We still couldn't believe it had been a full year, stumbling through the store not sure where to begin. Is it red, white and green, or is it black, yellow and red? Are paper beer steins innappropriate? Is a limbo bar Hawaiian or could that pass for fiesta? Can he choke on that chili pepper medallion?
While gathering a handful of black, white, green, red and yellow streamers, an all-important realization dawned on us....shouldn't we have sent out invitations?
Oops. We were unknowingly prepping for a party no one had been invited to.
To the internet!
So evites were substituted. If you didn't get one, it's your nearest friend/relative's fault, not mine. Those who received them were asked to pass out the info word-o-mouth. We only have so many email addresses and heaven help us if they're up-to-date. So if you didn't hear about it, just assume your friends and family didn't want you at the party. We still like you, though. So if you feel bad, just remember it's not too late to celebrate. Feel free to write out a birthday check to Tenzin's College, Advancement, School & Housing fund (or CASH for short).
From a traditionalist standpoint it felt a little odd to do the Evite thing, but we were short on time and didn't have much of a choice. All in all, I couldn't complain. It's a cool little system that allows you to track RSVP's and invitation receipts, and I'd use it again if necessary. The only downfall is that all of your friends and family email addresses are visible, so it's not good when Uncle Pete finds out that his daughter's email address is SeXyCrAzYCoedDrunkChick@gmail.com.
But no matter how much you try to plan for an event like this, there's really no amount of readiness that can get you to a happy level of comfort and relaxation. The basics were covered, we were definitely good on food. East and West coast Grandmas really came through in the clutch, adding to what was already an extensive menu of brats and fajitas. Grandpa was flying over in his semi truck with the cornhole set and extra chairs. Uncle Mike and Aunt Sarah were in charge of forgettables. Sweitzer's were running to the Rayo's pantry for ice cream. Once again, thanks to friends and family we had a huge back-up system in place.
So the big day came and I woke up that morning about 6:00 am (Rachel would call that sleeping in). I started running all over town, grabbing everything that had not been snagged earlier in the week. We had so much left to do. There was a circus tent to erect (thank goodness Chris can read instructions), a yard to be mowed, an anti-rain dance to be jigged, a fire pit to construct (thanks, Bileks!), beer to be iced, wine to be opened, and a projector to be...err...projected (the downfall of celebrating on a college football Saturday in Ohio!).
Meanwhile, it just cracked me up that the star of the show was oblivious. Little man was none the wiser. He just sat there enjoying the chaos, occasionally performing for Grandma, unaware that all of this was for him. Adorability in the face of mayhem. Our little zen.
Around 12:00 pm, everyone began to trickle in. Aunts and Uncles, in addition to numerous friends of the family, all began to arrive at our door with bags and babies in tow. As the numbers began to grow, it dawned on me that I should have started my indoor port-a-potty business a long time ago. I wasn't quite sure if our one-bathroom house was going to cut it, but in the end, everything worked out OK (impromptu kitty litter boxes work wonders!).
The party was just barely warm enough to stay outside. The rain held off and we even got a small glimmer of sunshine. Everyone ate, drank, told stories and appeared to have a really good time. I had a blast, but I think I came off as panicked. This is a the first real party we've ever thrown and I went straight into bartender-mode. I felt like I need to work the tables, refreshing drinks and making sure everyone had plenty of food. I hope it didn't bother anybody, but I really was nervous. I don't think I was able to relax until we all went inside for cake and presents.
Ahh, the presents. First and foremost, let me thank Allesandro Volta, for without his invention of the voltaic pile in 1800 we wouldn't have any batteries. Holy shamoley, no wonder kids today are so hyperkinetic! We were about eight presents into the mix when I looked around and realized that the front half of our rug looked like the Vegas strip. Everything was blinking, singing, buzzing, moaning or bouncing (for those of you without kids, remember that payback is coming).
The room was soon covered in paper, plastic and pvc packaging, none of which was entirely recognizable. I soon realized that as a father, I'm extremely dated. Who were these cartoons on the packages?
I have a fun little game I play with my nephew, not really because it's fun, but because I need to be schooled. He'll bring over his toys from the movie Cars and I'll make up names for the characters, asking his if that's "Ralphie the Red Car" or "Brownie the Repo Man." Turns out they're actually named Lightning McQueen and Mater the Tow Truck. The game is a win-win: Henry gets to prove that he's smarter than his uncle and I walk away with some new, toddler-hip knowledge (did you know Dora had a brother?).
So when I looked down at the canyon of blinking lights and honking horns, I realized that my game with Henry had just gone into overdrive. My son had just graduated into a world we, as parents, had little (if any!) exposure to. Retired are the high-ranking military kangaroo leaders and their ping pong balls. Gone are the slimes and the "I don't knows." Recycled are the paper bills sitting on capital hills.
We were now in a world of wiggling grown men in multi-colored turtlenecks, kids named Dexter experimenting in what are obviously underground meth labs, freaky ass talking hands named Oobi that spout nothing but gibberish, and an indentured servant named Thomas that is forced to pull wealthy travelers all over the UK.
What I wouldn't give right now for an Electric Company. Or a 3-2-1 Contact. Or even a King Friday.
Anywhoo, I exhaled at the thought of my outdatedness and sat in front of my son. He was staring down down the barrel of a white icing gun, ready to tear into West Coast Grandma's carefully-made cake. What felt like hundreds of people were crammed into a room the size of a fishbowl. We were all perched over stairs, peering through connecting kitchen doorways, and even watching in abstentia in pictures behind him.
I instantly flashed back to a moment three weeks prior where my mom and dad, per Rachel's request, whipped out the family albums. I had forgot all about the picture. There I was, a young 365-day old boy in a train conductor's suit. Same curly blonde hair, same intent stare at the cake I was about to annihilate, same family (now, with some excellent additions).
I'll stop it there without going on another emotional bender, but it really is awesome to look at your son and see your picture. What's more, it's awesome to look at your son and see the same love surrounding him. We're finally starting to "get it."
Also, Great-grandmothers are getting older and wiser, so we understand that birthday parties are no longer quick trips over to Columbus. It takes some major planning from aunts and uncles. Same goes for the Californians. Each moment out of the year with you guys is never long enough.
We finally see with open eyes just how many people are invested in the love and happiness of our son. We're so thankful to all of you. It's been one heck of a ride. Now that it's all said and done, I can honestly say that I know I'll always have a problem with these "graduation" moments. But I'm comforted (in a very weird way) to know that the "firsts" don't get any easier: walking, talking, home runs, soccer goals, driving, commencements. It's the bubble-mentality of wanting to protect your child and freeze them in an innocent time, while forcing yourself simultaneously to let go.
While it isn't easy to see them grow up, it's nice to know that our family has a lot of healthy glue. So thanks for all you did for us when we were Tenzin's age, and thanks for passing it on to another generation.
It was great celebrating with everyone, even those there in spirit (I'll try to relax a little more next time). And a big thanks to Rachel for all of her hard work. You're a wonderful mother. Tenzin and I both adore you.