Monthly Archives: June 2018
When I asked Ethan what he wanted his 6th birthday party theme to be and he said “knights,” I had to double check that I understood. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that I asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up and he responded, “Nocturnal.”
“Knights? Like, Knights of the Round Table?” I asked, knowing there was a better way to phrase this to a kindergartner.
“No,” Ethan said. “Like knights that fight.”
“Okay,” I said. “I got it.”
I was a little concerned that I wouldn’t be able to find good decorations easily. At least, not as easily as if he said, “Starwars,” for instance. But it wasn’t a problem. I ordered a dragon pinata, foam swords for a melee, and foil crowns and stick on plastic gems for a craft station. Easy peasy.
There were about 40 people on the guest list, so we had the party at a park in the neighborhood. This took care of seating and shade. Also, I thought if no one wanted to sword fight or decorate a crown, there was a playground.
I’ve never thrown a child’s birthday party before, and I admit I stressed over it more than I should have. I didn’t sleep much the night before and then I went to the park early and claimed some tables (they don’t take reservations). I did my best to plan for all contingencies, but there are always things beyond one’s control. For example, a block away, a sewer pipe burst and each time the breeze shifted there was a distinct barn-yard smell. I could have been upset, but I decided that it gave the medieval theme an air (pun intended) of authenticity. Hopefully the guests felt the same. (They did not, but they were very polite about it.)
The final touch were two figurines to decorate the cake – a knight and a dragon. Once everything was set up and we were waiting for the guests to arrive, there was nothing to do but sit and wait.
“You know,” Matt – my history teacher boyfriend – said, pointing at the cake, “there is a historical problem there.”
“Oh yeah?” I asked. “What’s that?”
“Yes, I think the knight should have a sword. I was just reading that knights, who usually came from the aristocracy, actually looked down on archery. Archers were from the lower classes.”
“That’s interesting,” I said. “Also, there’s a dragon.”
“True,” Matt said. “Very true.”
A few years ago, I went to a writing conference here in Salt Lake. I don’t actually like conferences because they are always full of strangers and I’m awkward and anxious and I am terrible at small talk. But there was a girl there with a beautiful shy smile. I immediately recognized Samantha as a member of my anxiety ridden tribe and without saying anything she made me feel at ease.
The conference was three days, but we didn’t talk much. As much as I liked her I was a bit intimidated. Ten years my junior, and she was a published author!
I was leaving the conference on the last day and had just reached the front door of the building when she caught up to me. She gave me a copy of her book and wouldn’t hear of it when I tried to pay her for it. We exchanged goodbyes and well wishes. I’ve seen her a few times since at other conferences.
Today, I heard that Sam was killed in a car accident yesterday.
There’s no lesson. I’m not wishing we were different more outgoing people. We were our true selves and we connected in our quiet “small talk” free way. She was kind and gifted and I’m so sorry she is gone.
Hug your people close. Share your gratitude for the small gestures. Be kind when you can. It all matters.