Sunday was Samuel’s 5th birthday. He loves baseball and we planned on buying Cardinal’s tickets to take him to his first game on the special day. Then about a month ago he said that he wanted a Superman birthday party with all his friends, a big cake and piñata. He’s never had a big party… these past years we’ve lived too far away for family to attend and he’s always been too young to have many friends since he hasn’t yet been school-age and we have done our level best to abstain from organized religion.
This month, we enrolled him into pre-school two weeks prior to his birthday, just so he’d have a large group of friends to invite. Friday came and went and no one had responded to the RSVP as requested, we did our best to prepare ourselves for the onslaught of tears to come on Sunday. On the 26th, the house was full, nearby family did what families should do and filled the void left by friends. Not one of the twelve invited children arrived. A few cousins came, but the age difference is drastic. I slowly recalled being told more than once that this nice southern town took it's time accepting new residents. However, the day was not lost, Samuel was glad in his gifts and his younger brother helped him break-open the piñata. Everyone had double helpings of cake and ice cream, so he wouldn’t notice the leftovers.
Later that evening as he prepared for bed, I asked him how he felt about his day. Samuel said that he had fun then paused and said, “It was too bad my friends couldn’t come, I wanted to see my new best friend Keaton, but at least my family is big”.
I’ve come to realize, in fatherhood, that some people are simply born stronger than others and no amount of growth or life-long conflict can match that inborn strength. Knowing this about my son, I realize that I probably learned more from this experience than he; then again... maybe we would have all just been better off if I had purchased the goddamn Cardinal’s tickets. – DN