A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away... Henry turned four.
This seemed like an appropriate opening line because it acknowledges that I am insufferably late in posting about his birthday AND honors the fact that we initially started with a Star Wars theme for his party.
The Star Wars theme was mostly because he wanted a Rancor cake for his birthday. In case you're not a Star Wars aficionado/geek, the Rancor is a VERY minor character that appears ONCE for like FIVE MINUTES in Episode VI. He lives under Jabba the Hut's throne room and is all claws and teeth and slime and Henry absolutely adores him. ADORES.
He had told us months ahead of time that he wanted Mumsie to make him a Rancor cake for his fourth birthday. (Mumsie makes the kids' birthday cakes because she makes incredible cakes and I make funfetti cakes. So she wins.) I tried to explain to him that I didn't think that was going to work, a Rancor would be really hard to make out of icing, and wouldn't he like a (insert a million different cool cake ideas here) cake, but he would not budge. A RANCOR CAKE. Like he thinks we're on Cake Boss or something.
When he told Mumsie that he wanted a Rancor cake, I again interjected with some reality; "I don't think Mumsie can make a Rancor cake, bud..." and then Mumsie said "Of course I can make a Rancor cake!" because grandmothers are mothers who have forgotten how to say NO. They make wishes come true. Not unlike Disneyland.
She bought a Lego Rancor figurine, made a chocolate cake, a gooey praline-slime topping, and a bunch of bones out of pie crust, and dammit if it that woman didn't come up with a Rancor cake.
Henry loved it. He still (three months later) sleeps with the Rancor figure on the table next to his bed, and every time anyone mentions cake he says "Remember that Rancor cake Mumsie made me for my birthday when I was four?"
We absolutely remember, Henry. Absolutely.
The true theme for this birthday really ended up being "Ferocious Beasts" since in the end he was torn between his love of the Rancor, his love of sharks, and his love of dinosaurs. But, in reality, the dinosaurs won out, I think. We sent out a dino invitation, he got a new dino bed as his big gift from us, and about 95% of his gifts... were dinosaur themed. INCLUDING a hand-stitched T-rex pillow from his Nana to grace his new bed. We're truly swimming in dinosaurs over here, guys.
His party was great, obviously:
Full of friends, food, fun, and... did I mention the dinosaurs?
We also had a great time celebrating as a family that weekend. Henry requested bagels as his birthday breakfast (because loving carbs is genetic) and then later that morning, David & I set up his new bed while he & Maggie watched a movie.
Lest you think we're super lame for giving him a BED as a present, let me clarify that ever since we gave Maggie a big girl bed for HER birthday, Henry has asked for a new bed for HIS birthday. David's parents had an extra twin bed that they were getting rid of, so it seemed like a no-brainer, we just needed to get him a comforter & sheet set.
I was really torn between getting him Star Wars bedding and dinosaur bedding, but the monstrous price tag on Pottery Barn's twin Star Wars set made the decision for me. (Don't they know that KIDS are sleeping in these beds?!? And they occasionally pee and vomit at night? And somehow mysteriously get ALL surfaces sticky over time?)
He was hilariously thrilled when he saw his new bed all put together and EVERY DAY he asks me to help him make his bed in the morning because he likes to see "all the dinosaurs all spread out." Plus, I've already had to wash that comforter twice, so I do feel like I made the right decision, POTTERY BARN.
I feel like it's a good thing that I was late getting your birthday post together because it's given me a little more time to reflect. Four is big. Really, really big. To you, turning four was like what turning sixteen is to a teenager- you felt like the whole world opened up. You got a new bed, you get to sit in a booster seat instead of a carseat, you get to stay in part of the service at church and then go the big kids class. You can reach the faucet handle and the light switches. You love to tell me that "four is really big" and I've come to agree with you.
I tell you almost every day to please STOP GROWING. You always refuse, telling me that you have to keep eating healthy food, so you have to keep growing. (Such awesome logic.) Then I quiz you, saying okay, but if you have to keep growing, do you promise to still love Mommy when you are a grown-up? When you're a teenager? How about when you're in middle schoool? When you're really REALLY big and you have your own kids?
You answer yes, to every question, without hesitation. "Yes! Yesssss, Mommy, I'll still love you. But I gotta keep growing."
"Okay" I finally say. "Okay, as long as you promise." And then you usually ask for a snack because you're a bottomless pit.
I love how fun you are these days- how much you have to say, the way you love top 40 radio, your concepts of time and justice, your sense of humor, the inventive ways you describe things. I love that you ask me if we can "make this day go by fast" when there's something you're looking forward to, or that every Saturday you ask if we can "make this day go slow" because you're so excited that it's the weekend and that Daddy's home. I love how much you love to learn, and that you ASK to do worksheets and read books and practice letters and go to the library. I love the way you get excited about new ideas and ask question after question until you feel like you've explored a new concept fully. I especially LOVE the way you love others- the way you think about your friends and cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents, the way you take care of your sisters, how compassionate you are, and how you'd prefer that we just all be together all the time. Every day should be Saturday!
Dad & I are considering putting you in a 2 or 3 day preschool program in the fall, and even though I know you'd do great, I sort of hate the idea. Because I am selfish. I don't want to share you. Not even a litte. I don't want to miss out any part of you while you're this small (big! big, yes, I know you're actually BIG, but from another perspective, also very small.) Because next year you'll be five, and then you'll go to kindergarten and then huge chunks of your life will begin to happen apart from me.
And even though I think that's a really, really great and necessary thing, it's also kind of sad. So far, we've been constant companions, you & I, for four years, and even though we irritate each other a fair amount (it drives me bonkers when you whine or use baby-talk, and it drives you bonkers when I make you share something 'special' or don't IMMEDIATELY answer your questions) I still cherish every single minute that we've been together.
Everyone talks about this being a "season" of life with very young children, and how fast it will be over, and all that nonsense and it wasn't really until we started to talk about maybe doing preschool that it hit me for some reason- it IS a season. It WILL be over. It IS so very fast. You were right, Henry. You ARE really, really big. And also really, really small. And I really, really love you.
So, Happy Birthday, buddy! Can't wait to see what you'll request for next year's cake.