I stayed up late, decorating the house. There's a subtle art to hanging streamers, and one has to do it just so or else the effect is not right. From every corner of the room, happy streams of pink and tangerine twirled to the center, where they met with a bouquet of balloons.
On the backs of the chairs, I tied more balloons. I set the birthday cards in front of their places, stood back, and debated where to hang the Happy Birthday banner they had asked for.
I got out the ingredients for a pancake breakfast, getting everything set so we would have the BEST birthday that one could have. I didn't want any tears. That's all I can hope for on birthdays right now, no tears and no tantrums.
When everything was as set as could be, I turned off the lights and went to bed with a smile on my face. I love birthdays.
The next morning, I awoke to a hysterical 5 year old boy.
"I have no friends. No one came to my party. Everyone hates me." he sobbed.
His sister, the other birthday person, tried to console him. "I like you Tad. You're my best friend."
"NO! You're my sister. I want a friend. No one likes to play with me because they don't like me. They think I can't drive a jeep."
My heart broke.
He hadn't mentioned the boys since that night, I thought he had gotten over it. I was wrong.
I tried to cheer him up.
"Thaddeus! For your guys' birthday breakfast we get to have pancakes! What color do you want them? Blayne, do you want heart ones or flower ones? Tad, did you decide?"
He couldn't talk. He couldn't even breathe. He was hysterical, and started hiccuping.
"Nobody likes me," hiccup, "and nobody even came to my birthday party!"
He was distraught. Each time he looked at the balloons, he started sobbing all over again.
I looked at the clock. 7:00 am. Definitely too early to call anyone, but I did have a plan.
I looked at Thaddeus. "You know what dude? It's not time for your party yet. Your friends are still sleeping. We have to go to the store and get a cake, THEN your friends will be here."
He jumped up, and wiped the tears off his cheeks.
"Oh, you mean, it's not TIME for my party yet?"
"Nope. Not yet. We have to get the birthday cake and some other birthday stuff first, okay?"
Blayne looked at me, "Am I having a birthday party too Mama?"
"Yep. Yep you are. But FIRST, we have to get the cake."
Everyone smiled. I smiled back and looked at the clock. 7:15 am, still too early to call anyone.
I got everyone fed and the breakfast dishes done. I scrambled to throw myself and the kids together. We had a few errands to run if we were going to have a birthday party today.
Finally, it was 8:00 am. I could call people.
"Hey, it's MomBabe. Do you have any kids that could come to a party at 11:00? Sweet. We're having an impromptu birthday party. No gifts, please. Just bodies. Thanks. Do you know anyone else that has kids at home?"
Phone call after phone call, I tracked down as many kids as I could that would be able to make it to our impromptu birthday party.
By 8:30, we had a tentative guest list, and I had our list of "stuff" to get for the party.
One by one, I herded the shortlings out the door and into the car. They were jabbering away about the birthday cake and the party and isn't this so exciting and what friends do you think are coming?
I drove to the nearest Wal-Mart and repeated the store rules.
"Okay. We don't have a lot of time. Our friends are coming and we need a birthday cake and some gift bag prizes and you have to stay with mommy. One hand on the cart, no dawdling. Got it?" and in we went.
We headed over to the birthday row and picked out prizes and gift bags for our friends. Then I dragged all four of them around the entire store before realizing that this particular Wal-Mart does NOT have a bakery. Shoot.
We go to the check out and proceed to tell the checker all about the birthday party that is going to be AT OUR HOUSE! WITH OUR FRIENDS! And because we're super polite, we invite the checker to the party. Unfortunately, she has to work but she wishes them a very happy birthday.
Out to the car again, buckle everyone in, off to the grocery store to get a cake.
By the time we got everything we needed and pulled into the driveway, it was 20 minutes to eleven. We raced into the house and I frantically started putting gift bags together while four pairs of eyes watched out the front window.
Finally, a van pulled up. Then another, and another.
Thaddeus was overjoyed as friends walked into the house. And even though I said not to, they came with gifts, for Thaddeus AND Blayne.
I was so grateful. I thanked the mothers for coming on such short notice. They thanked me for giving them a reason to leave the house today.
We sang happy birthday. We ate pizza and birthday cake. We opened gifts. We blew bubbles.
I got to know some of my neighbors a little bit better, and they assured me, they've all been there.
When DadGuy came home from work that day, he asked how everything went.
Thaddeus said, "Today was the best day of my life! I have so many friends!"
Blayne agreed, "Yeah, they love us!"
DadGuy looked at me and smiled. I smiled back. "Yep. We have LOTS of very good friends."