#4’s Birthday

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?”

Listening to instructions

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.

3 birthday goldfish

#3 celebrated her birthday recently. She received from her godfather three goldfish to put into her empty fishbowl. Do not fear, we filled the bowl before submerging the poor fish. For several days the bouncing five-year-old took much pleasure in observing and trying to over-feed the little goldfish.

At last the inevitable happened, “Daddy, the baby fishy died!”

I reassured her, in a groggy, sleepy way, “I’m sure it’s just sleeping. Now get yourself back to bed before you wakeup the real baby.”

In the morning before I left the house in the dawn light, I checked on the fish. Sure enough, dead as old Marley. I thought to myself, I would take care of it and save Wife the trouble. I scoop the corpse out with the fishnet and tossed it outside for the cats to eat. At least something good would come out of it.

When I came back home from work, after overcoming the entanglement my children made around my legs, #3 waited to catch my full and undivided attention. Looking up with her big blue eyes she inquired, “Daddy, the baby fish is gone, where’d it go?”

Without thinking I blurted out, “I tossed it out side for the cat to eat.”

The five year-old stared up at me with a blank expression for three heart-beats. In that time I realized just how ruthless that sounded. I waited for the emotional crash… but unexpectedly she bobbed her head and bounced away with a simple, “K.”

I turned to Wife, who still had a hand over her mouth. She lost no time in scolding me, “That was harsh, don’t you think?”

“Well… she seemed to handle it fine. And besides, she should have a firm grasp on what life really is.” And before Wife could catch me I jumped into the solitude of the shower.

Now the next afternoon I found myself in an amusing situation. Again #3 rushed up to me and waited for her siblings to say hello before she could grasp my attention. She then said, “Daddy, anodder fish is dead! Are you going to feed it to the cats?”

“I guess so.” And with that we all paraded into the house and saw that indeed another fish had died. So again I scooped it out and this time was followed outside. When I dropped the fish to the cat, the cat was chased away by the dog, who in turn was chased away by #3, who then went running around the house looking for the cat so that it could eat the fish. I’m really not sure who got the fish in the end; but I did check #3’s pockets to make sure she was not attempting to save the fish to feed the cat at breakfast.