For the previous 10 years, we’ve celebrated M’s birthday by inviting several of his friends over to the house on a Friday evening for pizza, cake, a movie, and running screaming around the yard. We didn’t list that last activity on any of the invitations, and yet it’s evidently unavoidable when you have five boys and one tomboy on your typical guest list.
(The first time E helped me throw one of these parties, we’d only been dating a few months. Not even that scared her off dating a single mother. Very impressive.)
But this year, with M turning 14, we made it fairly clear that he’d outgrown birthday parties. Instead, he started the day by spending about six hours working with Scouts on one kid’s Eagle project building a boardwalk.
He and some of the Scouts then spent a couple more hours hanging out together afterwards. M walked two miles home from that, only to turn around and bike most of the way back to meet up with a different friend. They ended up back at our house, along with the girl from across the street and her mom, to eat birthday cake.
I had a little trouble making the cake this year. The instructions said to grease the pans but not flour them. In retrospect, I should have floured them anyway, because the cake broke apart coming out of the pans. Here’s what the piled-up layers looked like.
Then I frosted it, using large quantities of frosting in an effort to hold it all together. Since M is taking German this year, I decided to write “Happy Birthday” on it in German. The resulting phrase from the German dictionary was long enough and complex enough and blurry enough in cake icing to distract everyone from wondering why the cake was still a little lumpy and lopsided.
And after that, E and I took M out to dinner at his favorite buffet place, then gave him presents, which included an eagerly-anticipated cell phone. He seemed pretty happy with the whole day, despite the lack of any official party. He put in a bid several days later to invite 5 friends over to watch a movie, but since it was for a time when neither E nor I would be home, it was easy to point out that we are not idiots and if he wanted a group over, he’d have to pick another time. So far he hasn’t done so.