Oh my goodness. I know all moms say this, but how on earth did our middle child get to be THREE already? Karel was 5 in my head for months before his actual birthday, so that was okay (because time would stop and his birthday wouldn’t happen if it wasn’t okay, obviously) (insert eye roll), but this three year old thing is throwing me for a loop.
Emil Birk is our/my gauge of how long we’ve been in Norway, so I guess that kind of explains why it’s so weird to me that he’s getting bigger. I mean, didn’t we just move here? If I’ve lived here long enough to have two babies (WHAT?!?!), that means I should have the language down, right? (Whatever. That’s crazy talk. Living somewhere long enough to have two babies means you have at least two babies, which means basic communication in any language is a challenge. Choosing to not beat myself up over that one.)
Anyway, poor EB has been waiting for his birthday for a loooooong time. Karel had kind of a super-extended celebration, with cake and presents on multiple occasions, and Emil just kept asking when it was going to be HIS birthday. One night he totally busted out denial as a coping mechanism and told me –complete with crossed arms and tears — it was never going to be his birthday (Æ skal aldri har bursdagen min). So when it finally came around the whole extended family on both sides of the ocean have been very keyed into making Emil’s day very special, too.
So, of course, i was on the verge of being a tiny bit stressed, because I wanted this long awaited event to live up to his expectations. And, as usual, when I overestimate what can be done, things get a little bit ridiculous. The upside is that there is nowhere better than the brink of failure to reevaluate what is actually important.
”Brink of failure” being, in this case, decorating african animal cut out cookies with frosting the color of caviar. I’d bought the cookie cutters in the States and was really excited to make pretty animal cookies for our little nature lover. Totally aware of how long sugar cookies take, I started the process early in the week. I kind of forgot to figure out how to make the appropriate color for lion and giraffe fur. Unfortunately for them, the last time I checked, ”tawny” and ”roe” where not the same color.
It’s crazy how easy it is to get sucked into the world of showing love through stuff. It was seriously like the devil/angel on the shoulder scenario when I was at the shopping center this past week. ”Is he getting a toy? Maybe we should get him another toy. So he’ll be happy,” — and I almost literally felt my brain being pulled into the black hole of stuff, which is an extremely stressful location. Evaluate what toy is going to make my 3 year old happy? Please. Why not decode the thought processes of insert-dicatator’s-name-here? It’d be easier. Which is where we cue the voice of love and light on the other shoulder, reassuringly whispering, ”if we just spend time with him and let him know how much we love him, he’ll be okay.” Full. Confident. Maybe even peaceful.
THAT we can do. We went for a ”vawwk” (Emil-speak for ”walk”) in the the woods the morning before his party. He skipped over tree roots and pointed out and counted all the mushrooms the forest had to offer that day. We heard a woodpecker, and it was the 3 year old set of eyes that located the bird first.
”I hope,” I’d said to a wary Bjørn at 11 p.m. two nights before, surrounded by ridiculous animal cookies, ”that when the kids grow up and look back on these little birthday parties they’ll know that I really tried. And that they realize my love language is food.”
Which means that I’m asking the future Emil Birk to look back on these sugar cookie lions with the Alec Baldwin manes and fish-egg colored fur and know that it means that we love him. Stubborn, sweet, strong, LOUD, artistic, curious, unafraid, and so, so funny — you might have been sent to your room even on your birthday, but if you look at those lumpy elephant cookies and the frosting snails, you’ll know how much we love you.