By Donne Davis – GagaSisterhood.com
When I envisioned my granddaughter’s first birthday party, I pictured us all sitting around the table sharing childhood memories and toasting to little Sophia’s first important milestone—something akin to a Norman Rockwell scene. But I should have remembered that a one-year old does not understand the concept of sitting — especially in a high chair dating back to the 60s.
For our four generation celebration I bought pink paper plates and napkins with a big #1, a matching bib and party hat for Sophia and candles that spelled out her name to put on the lemon cake — a family favorite. I even remembered to bring the musical cake plate that plays “Happy Birthday” that my grandma gave me 40 years ago.
The cast of characters at the birthday party ranged in age from one to 92 years old: my mother, my husband, my brother and sister-in-law, my son and daughter-in-law, the birthday girl, Sophia, and myself. I hoped my mom would be able to maintain patience in the chaos, my brother would control his temper and the baby would refrain from having a meltdown.
Dinner was scheduled for 5pm at my mother’s senior community — not a very child-friendly place. The waiter brought over a retro aluminum high chair straight out of the 60s. We secured Sophia in her chair with a makeshift belt. Within seconds of putting on her bib, she pulled it off and wanted nothing to do with it. While everyone else was ordering, I fed Sophia some barley that I’d brought from home. Some of it got into her mouth, but most landed on the floor around her.
It’s been eight years since we had a one-year old in the family and I’d forgotten that their attention span is only 20 seconds. All my hopes of sharing memories were forgotten, as I focused on entertaining Sophia so she’d stay in the high chair for the rest of the meal.
Just as my entrée was served, I noticed that Sophia needed her diaper changed. My daughter-in-law and I took her to the bathroom. I should have realized from the high chair that this was not a kid-friendly environment. There was no changing station or even a counter area to lay her down. So I held her while her mom cleaned her up.
By the time we got back to the dining room everyone was finishing their entrees. I took a few bites of my now cold tilapia and let the waiter clear my plate. I brought out the lemon cake, placed the “SOPHIA” candles carefully on top and lit them. We all sang “Happy Birthday” along with the musical cake plate as Sophia and her parents beamed with pride.
I breathed a huge sigh of relief. We’d accomplished our goal of celebrating Sophia’s birthday without any mishaps. I felt like I’d aged another year in that hour just trying to make sure everything ran smoothly.
What I realized later was that I didn’t have to stress so much. Sophia is such a mellow baby and so are her parents. I learned an important lesson: I was so caught up in managing all the little details I almost missed the big picture — four generations successfully celebrated Sophia’s first birthday. Even if things didn’t go that smoothly, maybe “smoothly” shouldn’t be an expectation when dealing with a one-year old!
Donne Davis is the founder of the award winning website for grandparents, GaGaSisterhood.com