Edna Jackson, Instructor
ENG 101—English Composition
Assignment: Write a personal essay.
The amazing sights and sounds at my daughter’s tenth birthday party were completely unexpected this year. Throughout the last ten years, my two children have been the center of attention at family functions, but now, they have four new baby cousins, ranging from three to 15 months, and they are not at the top of the list anymore. Two weeks ago my husband and I and our two children traveled to Scottsdale to spend the weekend at Grandma’s house, where we were to have a birthday party for our daughter, Makenna. I was overwhelmed by the very loud and busy scene that unfolded.
The party was scheduled to start at noon on Sunday. We had made a wonderful lunch: we baked a beautiful three-layer cake with horses and pink frosting and candles that spelled out “Happy Birthday,” bought balloons and streamers, and planned activities like the egg toss and Pin-the-Tail -on-the-Daddy. We were ready for festivities to begin. At ten o’clock, my daughter asked me how much longer it would be before people arrived. Although I explained when the party would start, she proceeded to ask me the same question every fifteen minutes until people started to come.
The people I know with small children are usually late to everything they attend. Birthday parties are no exception. But explaining this to a ten-year-old at her party takes a lot of finesse and bribery. I convinced her not to say anything rude, even though her feelings were hurt. By two that afternoon everyone had arrived, thankfully!
Watching the scene unfold was quite humorous. My mother-in-law had a corral set up in her living room for all of her new grandchildren. All of the adults and new babies were in the corral on the floor. Babies were everywhere. Utter chaos was unfolding in every direction. There were happy babies, sad babies, walking babies and crawling babies; it was a most comical sight. The adults were talking to each other over the noise, and everything seemed to be getting louder. I looked up and spied my husband just outside of the corral, snickering and smiling to himself. I smiled back and thought how lucky we are that our children had passed this stage. I stopped paying attention to what was going on around me and got hit with a flying toy, another thing I do not miss, but I realized how lucky I am to have such an amazing family full of babies, laughter, and love. Then I saw my daughter out of the corner of my eye frowning at me, and I knew something was terribly wrong.
I had forgotten that the purpose of that afternoon was to celebrate a birthday. My daughter was ready to open her presents, and she expected full attention from everyone, no matter what their age. I wondered how I was going to be able to achieve the impossible and turn the attention from the babies to the birthday girl. I left the corral and got out my camera. From a spot just outside the corral, I made sure some of the babies saw the shiny toy I was holding in my hand. I took a few pictures, and they were hooked. Pretty soon I had three attentive babies at the fence. I even got the attention of the parents sitting on the floor in the corral. Of course, this didn’t last long before the pushing, pulling and crying set in. All the babies wanted out of the corral to play with the bright, colorful bows and paper on the other side of the fence. Makenna was quite happy with all of her gifts, and, soon, all was right with the world again.
Birthday parties are magical for children, but sharing the spotlight is hard. My children are still coping with not being the center of all things. They continue to do better at each family gathering and are slowly realizing that their new cousins are pretty neat. As for sharing the spotlight at a special event, I think even as a grown-up it is a hard thing to do. As for me, the scene of that afternoon is burned into my memory. Watching the faces of the beaming parents as they show off their babies, watching a baby interact and laugh, and watching the utter joy on their grandmother’s face is something I will always remember.