Birthday Series: 19 Days to Go: First Birthdays

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Have you ever gone to first birthday party? And, while there, have you (tried to) hold the kid?
From those who attempted, some women might have succeeded, and others probably took the kid long enough for it’s decibel to reach new levels before hastily shoving it back at the mother/ father/ whoever/ whatever.

I recently went to a First Birthday of a family friend’s baby. It was a tiny thing, and hadn’t learnt to talk yet. Maybe it did, but it didn’t during the party.  It was buried in a bunch of red material – pretty dress it must have been, on the rack, I’m sure. The kid was lost inside that somewhere. But we could figure out where it …she was from the screams coming from within. It cried throughout. Too many people trying to hold it, it was irritated, unhappy and uncomfortable.

We essentially took a possibly happy carefree baby, and put it amongst a ton of strangers, in uncomfortable clothes just so we could all celebrate it. How ironic is that! In that birthday, they had not one but two pretty cakes. And, as the kid, who was finally coaxed to a whimper came near the cake, they burst a confetti blaster. That Boom was enough to set it screeching all over again. So brainiacs near by tried to  calm the baby down by bursting some balloons. Who in their right minds would think that loud unexpected noises would calm anyone, leave alone a tiny human being, is beyond me.

All the pictures had the baby caught in various stages of wailing. Much later, they changed its clothes and rocked it to sleep so they could take pictures of it...her with the cake.

I know that I’ve had a pretty fancy First Birthday too. I know only from the pictures I’ve seen where scores of people are standing around and my dad or mom are holding me. The cake was pretty – plain rectangle though, and there’s a picture of me blowing the candle. Don’t think I was crying too much there (either ;) ) .

For my sister’s first birthday, we had a Mickey Mouse cake. We had progressed you see. Apart from pictures of people, the most memorable one is one of her staring so lovingly at the cake. Many people might have lived and died without ever feeling such true love. Such was hers. That love affair lasted many a birthday (hers, mine, anyone’s with a cake;) ) However, the rites and songs had to be sung before the lovers united.

Luckily we’ve long forgotten horrors if any, that we might have endured during out first birthday celebrations.

I’ve always wondered why celebrate first birthdays at all. The babies never remember it. It doesn’t make them any happier. But now that I’m older and wiser (shush with all the throat clearing there!) and with many friends who’ve given birth, I get that the first birthday celebration is not for the baby at all.

After months of toiling away without knowing the difference between day and night, having to carry huge bags everywhere, having to ensure that most things are clean around the baby, and the countless other things that take up so much energy from the parents – and rendering them almost completely asocial, the first birthday, I think, is like their coming out party. It’s about the parents declaring to the world in style (and with a worthy excuse) that “We did it! We survived this!” and in the process letting their friends know that they’re ready to socialize once again.


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