I love birthdays. I think one of the worst things that can happen to a person as they grow older is a lessened appreciation for these special days; for too many people, more years = less fun. Nonsense. Why should the fact that we’ve lived another year on this earth, that we’ve perhaps racked up quite a few, mean that we stop celebrating our arrival on it?
Birthdays not only serve as opportunities for one-day personal festivals, but they can also serve to educate us. Example: recently I had the pleasure of going to a party celebrating the first birthday of my friend Monique’s baby. I had never witnessed a first birthday before, so I was excited and curious, and greatly looking forward to seeing an already-adorable baby with cupcake all over her face.
The evening did not disappoint. Both mom and dad glowed with pride and contentment; there were colorful decorations, tiaras to wear, delicious cake and ice cream (exuberantly devoured by the guest of honor), and a manageable-sized group of folks close to the family who were genuinely thrilled to help celebrate the big day. It was a terrific party for a terrific kid. And later, I realized I not only had fun but picked up a surprising amount of wisdom that I plan to apply to all kinds of facets of life.
Things I Learned at a Baby’s First Birthday Party:
1) Wearing a tutu improves any evening, and makes for a pretty effective cushion if you fall down.
2) When receiving visitors, act as though they are the BEST, most EXCITING thing that ever happened. EVER.
3) When traveling anywhere, don’t worry about how you look, how graceful you are, or whether there is anything or anyone in your way. Stay determined and you’ll get there. Oh and you’ll probably take a tumble or two along the way, so when that happens, get up of course, but first it’s best to roll around a little bit and take in the scenery down there. Sometimes rolling around on the floor gives you that momentum you need to stand up again.
4) When eating, try everything on the plate. Mix things up as much as possible. If it gets a little messy, that just makes the party more fun.
5) The world is full of really cool presents and toys that are big and shiny and make interesting noises, but it’s the simplest things, like big balloons and tissue paper, that are worth hanging on to.
6) Smile for the camera. Even when your hands are dirty.
7) If a place feels too crowded or noisy or stressful, it’s okay to leave and do your own thing for a few minutes.
8) Sometimes life can rapidly go from being very fabulous to very scary. When that happens, Mom will be there for you. Always. Even if it means completely abandoning a perfectly nice bottle of Samuel Adams, or ending a streak of total Wii game domination.
9) Milk is good for you, so you should drink it. Beer wouldn’t be right in a sippy cup, anyway.
10) Dance excitedly to whatever music is playing.
So there you have it: lessons gleaned from a peek into the brief window of time that exists before life gives us those tricky complications of talking, manners, and potty training. Call me crazy, but I say we could all stand to learn a little bit from a one-year-old.