The count down to birthdays happens early with Ruby. She counts the months, the weeks, the days. She plans her cake, remembers the ones that have come before, and has a pending list of the cakes for three future birthdays. She knows that she has about 50 weeks now to finalize the next one. So, as with every year, she invented and confirmed the cake, dug out the party flags and invited her friends.
Her cake, was not chocolate of course. This year was one layer of lemon, strawberry whipped cream, one layer of orange, strawberry whipped cream, another layer of lemon, strawberry whipped cream, another layer of orange, a thick layer of strawberry whipped cream and strawberries on top, all served with whipped cream from a can, because she says, “it’s my favorite thing on earth.”
Not uncommonly she had her party in the best playground around. Two major things were different this time around. It’s nearly winter solstice here, which means wool socks, long sleeves, and chilly air, but also that it gets dark very early. Perhaps the weather isn’t as significant for Ruby as it is for me (who finds it impossible to celebrate anything that requires wearing long sleeves). The kids ran around, climbed the play structures, snacked and enjoyed themselves, while keeping their shoes on.
More significantly though, was the way the party came about. Ruby handed out invitations to kids in her class, kids that were her own friends, kids that were not the daughters and sons of my own friends. She decided who was important, inviting both of the girls that each said they “can’t be friends with Ruby” if she’s friends with the other, a boy, many of the girls in her class, and Miles’ favorite friend. At the party Tucker and I were barely introduced to the kids since they were off and running until we called, “cake,” but had a chance to chat with a few parents. It doesn’t surprise me that she’s made a place for herself among the kids in her Year Four class, but it does seem significant that she’s off in her own world, very grown up, independent, and nine.