The time: after dark.
The day: #4’s birthday.
This explosive combination could only add up to one thing… birthday cake. Wife was in her element.
She started by turning off every light in the living-room, which by itself was not an uncommon practice. After all, many people follow the time-honored tradition of causing an artificial black-out to celebrate birthdays. This way, only the flickering candles on top of the cake illuminated the festive family; and once they are blown out, one or more people stumble dangerously around in the pitch black looking for the light switch. Beloved Wife is a loyal supporter of this well-worn tradition. And as you may have guessed, I’m the stumbler.
Once Wife was satisfied with the mood, she felt the need to lay out the rules before she set the cake down on the table. “O.k. birthday-girl, first we will… DO NOT BLOW OUT THE CANDLES YET! Alright? FIRST, we will sing “Happy Birthday,” then, and only then do you blow out the candles. Understand?”
And while #4 listened intently to her mother’s instructions, the rest of the children worriedly watched the candles burn lower and lower. At last the singing started, ended, and the candles were blown out. Ah, but this time I had the upper hand, while Wife gave her pre-blow-out instructions, I turned on the hallway light. Not stumbling this time.
And as I turned on the rest of the lights, the children argued amongst themselves who would get their cake after the birthday-girl. All the while #6 screamed to be the first from his high-chair. I actually think he won out, squeaky-wheel and all. But I wasn’t paying attention. When I did start paying attention was after a little cough was followed by a, “DO NOT COUGH ON THE CAKE! YOU KNOW BETTER.”
What a way for a birthday-girl to end her day. I’ll let you all know if the whole family comes down with the flu.