Friday, April 21, 2006

Nothing Tops Birthday Number Two

Families make much "a-do" when it comes to a child's first birthday. Everyone rallies around, cameras in hand, all waiting to get that special shot of the bouncing baby boy or girl diving into their first piece of birthday cake. There are even special plates, cups, and party decorations all with the "Baby's First Birthday" theme.

I'm not really that big of a fan of the first birthday, to be honest. My son's first birthday had to be put on hold when the birthday boy fell asleep IN his cake. (Yes, his head drooped right down in the chocolate icing and everything.) My daughter's first birthday wasn't as eventful, but she did not fully understand what was going on around her either.

No, for me the second birthday is the one that is most interesting. By the second birthday, kids know a little about what is going on. They get presents and the cake and the whole enchilada. And, after sitting through many second birthdays I can tell you that, as a parent, you never know what you are going to get with your toddler and this experience either.

My daughter proved this point just this month as we celebrated her second year of life. Both sides of the family came, the house was decorated in a bright Dora the Explorer theme, and we were ready to have some fun. As I mentioned before, I created a scavenger hunt with clues to lead the kids to a pinata, and stayed up almost all night the evening before making a Dora cake for her. And, if you've been here before, you've read some about the party insanity already.

But, by far, the best part of a very small child's birthday party has to be the present opening. You see, you get a real glimpse into a child's future personality at this moment when bags and boxes of goodies are wheeled out right in front of their amazed eyes. I have attended parties where the child ripped through presents barely taking the time to notice what was in the bag, obviously more happy to be tearing paper. Many times, all manners are thrown by the wayside and mother and father are left to quickly thank the present givers and hope that they forgive little Timmy for throwing that awful pair of orange pants into the trash pile with the wrapping paper as he made his way to the next present.

I've attended parties where the toddler was too overwhelmed by the many people there to do any thing at all, instead choosing to cry in her mom's lap while the mother tried to open presents with one hand, direct her husband to take pictures with the other, and thank each guest for the present, simultaneously. Finally, I've watched as the other young party guests take over the present opening, ripping bags and boxes from the birthday toddler, tired of waiting on him/her to get the paper off and then fleeing with the gifts to the playroom leaving the birthday child behind to cry.

At my son's second birthday, we ran into a little snag very early in the present opening. After he opened his first gift, a small package with a few Hot Wheels in it from his Grandfather, he was done. He was uninterested in any other present the rest of the party. He wanted to play with those Hot Wheels right then and forgot the rest. It was a little embarrassing, as we had to force him to look at other gifts as we opened them and tried to act excited for him to make up for his indifference. No gift caught his eye after the first set of Hot Wheels though--not even other cars. And, my son has not changed much in his day-to-day play. He still gravitates to his Hot Wheels and also seems to find one thing he wants to play with for many days a row without jumping around to his other toys.

My daughter had a different take on the whole present-opening experience this year. She could have cared less about the first present or the last, or any in-between for that matter. She saw candy on the table next to where we were sitting, and that was all she wanted. Give her a piece of candy, and she'd sit with you as you open the presents. But, as soon as that piece of candy was gone, she would squeal for more candy, leaving her presents behind as she ran to find another piece.

The fact that we had a pinata did not help with the candy obsession. After the pinata beheading, and the presents, it was time for a nice lunch that we had catered for the family. My daughter was uninterested in this as well, happy to fill her stomach with a big juice box to continue riding the sugar train a little longer. As we were finishing eating, I let her get down and go play with her new toys in the living room.

Now, I should have recognized the silence as a clue that something was awry. I really should have, but I didn't. From my vantage point, she seemed to still be happily playing with her new toys. But, minutes later when I checked on her more closely, I found her there with the most unusual frozen smile on her face. Her teeth were firmly pressed together in a tight smile that seemed awkward, but I could not figure out why. That's when I noticed the tiny trickle of chocolate mixed with saliva running from the corner of her mouth to her chin. And, upon further inspection, I saw that in-between the teeth of that frozen smile, there was chocolate peaking out as well. A quick scan of her surroundings and I found a graveyard of empty Tootsie Roll wrappers scattered at her feet. Apparently, one of the cousins had forgotten to put their candy up high and my little explorer had found it.

Panic set in, as I realized that she could choke on this kind of candy, if she'd truly put that many pieces in her mouth at one time. As I tried to pry open her mouth, her father saw my expression and came to help. Between the two of us, we were able to wedge open her choppers to find that they were, in fact, sealed shut by the Tootsie roll pieces. The candy was embedded all the way to her gum line in between each tooth. The next minutes were spent scraping the candy out of her teeth, pulling long strands out, still finding more and more the further we got into her mouth. And there were several prayers of thankfulness that she did not try and swallow all of the candy, which would have surely choked her.

Finally, we got most of the sticky mess out of her mouth and got her to the bathroom to clean her face. Her party dress was covered with brown Tootsie spit and so were my clothes. And, as we got her face and hands completely cleaned, she beamed a smile at us both and then, asked for more candy.

Well, all we could do at that point was laugh. Laugh and find every piece of candy in our home and hide it out of sight and reach. Something tells me we will be doing that a lot over the next few years!


Blogger Lisabell said...

That is hysterical! I love the image of her mouth sealed shut with tootsie rolls. I've always hated those things...

I remember at my oldest nephew's 2nd b-day party, he opened up the first present and it was a videotape of a kid's movie (Monster's Inc. maybe? can't remember) -- and he grabbed it, waved at everyone, and started heading in the house, ready to watch it. He was d.o.n.e. with the rest of the party, he wanted to watch that video NOW! It took some convincing, but somehow my sister got him to stick around and open the rest of the presents...

2:30 PM, April 21, 2006  
Blogger Nicole said...

LOL! That's totally a girl thing..give her the chocolate and save the toys for her brother...

My baby will be 2 next month and he's turning into such a silly guy. I can't wait to see what will happen with his party!

3:34 PM, April 21, 2006  
Blogger Erin said...

Too cute! My daughter was all about the chocolate too. My son cried throughout the entire cake eating experience.

9:08 PM, April 21, 2006  
Blogger CISSY said...

I do think we torture children with parties that are really more for the adults. The other children don't quite "get it" when one child is getting presents and they are not. And sticky about describes the conclusion to every birthday party my children had up until age 7, or maybe that was 15. Good memories. :)

6:28 AM, April 22, 2006  
Blogger Viamarie said...

I definitely agree. I like children parties but I don't like them held in my house or me organizing it.

A lovely day to you!

7:20 AM, April 22, 2006  
Blogger Masked Mom said...

My niece is a Tootsie Roll freak--when we go to the parades where candy is thrown she will only pick up the Tootsie Rolls. She's 9 (today actually)now but it started pretty early! Sounds like yours is an equal opportunity candy scarfer though.

9:03 AM, April 22, 2006  
Blogger Tori said...

This is hilarious...
And she probably would have continued to fill her mouth had you not walked in!!!!
Love those early childhood chocaholics....

6:36 PM, April 22, 2006  
Anonymous Karen said...

1st Christmas's are the same way- more for the parents then the kid. my 3rd one (maybe becuz he's my 3rd?) was best for his 1st bday. 2 yr olds are great. sounds like you had fun!

12:08 AM, April 23, 2006  
Blogger Barbara said...

I enjoyed this story, two year olds are adorable. My son would have stopped at the hot Wheels too.

12:54 PM, April 23, 2006  
Blogger Suburban Turmoil said...

This is classic. I can't believe her teeth were stuck together!

I bought a bunch of books for Baby's birthday party favors, wrapped each one, and gave it to the child whose gift Baby was opening at the time. That worked so well- The other toddler enjoyed having something to open and I think the pressure was off of my baby and she had more fun opening her own gifts.

She's a candyholic too, by the way. I love that picture of your daughter!

12:21 PM, April 24, 2006  
Blogger Tamara said...

Lena just celebrated the big 1. Natalie is precious! I cannot believe I haven't net her yet (outside the womb). Soon!

8:59 PM, April 25, 2006  

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