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July 31, 2006

Family Milestones - Part 1

The end of July is a big deal for our family. Today I’m writing about reason #1, and the next post will be reason #2.

On Saturday morning, I was awake long before dawn to put in a couple of hours on my bike. There would be no talking myself out of this particular workout, and this is why:

It’s my son’s eighth birthday cake, made by my wife. It goes with the shark theme for the pool party we had at Grandma and Grandpa’s house.

I’ve written before about my wife’s skills when it comes to making cakes. This shark was no exception – it was crazy delicious. Here’s how attached I become to these cakes: every time we have a birthday party, I find some way to oversee the slicing of the pieces to all of the kids, to make sure they are small enough that we have lots of leftovers afterwards. (By the way, I graduated from college more than ten years ago.)

Since there’s no turning down these culinary delights, I always make sure to get in a good workout on the morning of a birthday party. The cake seems to taste even better if I feel like I’ve earned those extra calories.

Luckily, my wife usually makes enough to spare, because we also have a cool family tradition of having birthday cake for breakfast on the morning after parties. (When it comes to cool family traditions, we have some pretty great ones.)

So I had my share of shark cake at the birthday party. And believe me, it was certainly worth riding 30 miles in the dark.


Actually, my son’s real birthday was last week. It led to the following conversation one night before he went to bed:

Me: Hey…do you know what you’ll be tomorrow?

Him: I’ll be eight.

Me: I can’t believe it.

Him: Me neither. But I’ll still be the same.

Me: But what about me? I have to learn all kinds of new things. I’ve never had an eight-year-old before. I don’t know anything about eight-year-olds.

Him: You don’t?

Me: Not really. I don’t know as much as you think sometimes.

Him: It’s OK. You’ll be fine.

Me: I know. We both will.

What I didn’t tell him was, I was only half-kidding. I feel like I don’t have a clue about this parenting thing sometimes. It’s like an ultramarathon where each mile poses its own unique challenges, with equally memorable high points and low points along the way. You don’t know exactly what the next ones will bring – you just know that somehow you’re going to keep moving through them.

The birthday parties are like aid stations where you take stock of how far you’ve come, get some encouragement from others who are there to assist you along the way, and shove down as many calories as your system can tolerate. Then you head off down the trail of the upcoming year.

Only in this case, each kid is a one-shot deal. You can’t do the race a second time. If you’re smart, you’ll remember to enjoy the journey, because once you are through it, there is no going back.

So bring on milestone #8, and let’s keep on rolling. I have a feeling it will be a blast.


backofpack 7/31/06, 9:54 AM  

Donald, that is one awesome cake - a little scary looking too! I bet your son loved it. Tell him Happy 8th Birthday from your blogging friends. You know, he's halfway to a drivers license now! And you are right about how fast the time goes by, I'm sure it was just yesterday that I was tucking an 8 year old in. Now he's sharing running tips with me...

jeff 7/31/06, 10:15 AM  

you are an amazingly talented writer, donald. birthdays are like aid stations. that's almost as good as "ogres are like onions". briliant. happy birthday to the little one!

stronger 7/31/06, 12:45 PM  

Your kids have awesome parents.

craig 7/31/06, 5:04 PM  

I get the sense that you already know more than most of us about this parenting thing. Great post.

Anne 7/31/06, 5:17 PM  

Great cake. I'd volunteer to divvy it out too, and using your allotments. Eight is a fun year. Now, Eight-teen on the other hand....

Robb 7/31/06, 7:14 PM  

I loved reading that conversation between you and your son. Those little quiet talks are the best. And, as Jeff has said...the 'birthdays are like aid stations' is a classic. Excellent post Donald.

Mike 7/31/06, 8:58 PM  

That is an awesome cake Donald! One of my biggest fears while frequenting the waters off Asilomar Beach back in the day! :-)

Darrell 7/31/06, 10:32 PM  

You have an awesome son. He tells you " It’s OK. You’ll be fine." He's right, too.

Great looking cake, save me some frosting! BTW, I'm kind of partial to July as well. Me and #2 son are 9 days apart in the bday department.

Brit 8/1/06, 5:25 AM  

I agree with Jeff you are an amazing rambler! Even though Jeff is my favorite you are a close second, these post touch the parent in us all. Since I returned from Blogher I've been thinking alot about my writing and blogging and where I want it to go. And really this is where I want it to be. Well written, thoughtful posts that touch something in people...and sometimes make them snort milk through there nose. I really want that.

Deene 8/1/06, 9:35 AM  

Cool kid! "you'll be fine" the best line from a kid.
i have similar exchanges with my kid as well where i tell her that she's the only egg in my basket and half the time i don't know where i'm going. then she tells me "it's ok".

Sarah 8/1/06, 10:41 AM  

Yum, cake!

I have a 7 yr old son and its amazing how much wisdom can come out of someone that's still so fresh and new. Hey, maybe that's why....

: )

angie's pink fuzzy 8/1/06, 12:18 PM  

aww, this post made me cry!!!

YaYa 8/1/06, 1:18 PM  

I am going to be 8 years old in 20 more days.

Juls 8/1/06, 1:20 PM  

Cute conversation. I love it. I love the cake. I am not as artful as your wife is. My son, YaYa, is going to be 8 years old soon but he will not be getting such a cool looking cake.

TriBoomer 8/1/06, 6:22 PM  

Now THAT's a cake!

tim 8>)... 8/4/06, 10:54 AM  

Cool cake, if I let your wife know when my birthday is, do ya think she could make me one too?? LOL

Anonymous,  11/21/09, 1:36 PM  
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