I’m not sure how many four year olds pick a Japanese steakhouse for their birthday dinner, but I feel pretty confident guessing that it isn’t many. But that’s how my little Lulu rolls, I guess. We gave her all day to pick a place and she only needed about five minutes. “That place where they cook on the table in front of you,” she said. Actually, the first thing she said was “The restaurant where you and mommy got married,” but we couldn’t figure out what she was talking about.
So we made the 40 minute trek up the freeway to the Tokyo Steakhouse in Findlay. I know it’s not supposed to be good, since it’s in Ohio and I can’t really like any ethnic food from here on principle…but it really is one of our favorite places. Lily and Ava split a salmon and a shrimp entrée, daddy got surf and turf and mommy got duck – all hibachi. We also got a bunch of sushi before dinner. In sum, it was probably more than we needed. I guess that’s another way to look at it; how many four your old birthday dinner tabs surpass the $200 mark. Probably not many. Ah whatever. That stuff makes great leftovers. Besides, Lily got to hit a gong when they sang her happy birthday.
On the way home we had to tell her that dinner was, in fact, her final birthday party. That’s because she’s had like three already. On Saturday she had some friends from school and their parents over for a “play date.” That was a little nerve racking because we don’t often have strangers come over, at least not the parents of other kids. I get paranoid about our dogs, house, etc. But everything went fine. Then, later in the night, we had a grown up party with Rhonda’s family, Heather and her family, some of our friends, etc. All for little Lily.
I made the most schizophrenic meal for her grown up party. I shouldn’t even call it a meal, actually. I have been cooking and cooking…just anything really. You name it and I bet I have made it in the last ten days. That also means I have been shopping and shopping. For five days straight I have been at a grocery store, never spending less than $100. I’ve spent more than most people do in a month and when I get home and pack everything into the fridge I just look at it and think “What is all this? Who is going to eat all this?”
It’s true, I have been walking around in a fugue state, and it’s near impossible for me to really focus on anything that isn’t related to my dad’s memorial. I spend money, I avoid work items, I sit and stare at a computer screen and do nothing. Mostly I have been focusing on building the slideshow for his service because it’s generally mindless and I can sit here for hours cropping pictures, putting them in chronological order, removing blemishes, etc. It’s about all I can handle right now, I guess. Several times I have started my way to the gym, even partially driving there yesterday. But then I retreat. I just can’t do it. Not now.
Rhonda’s mom didn’t show up to Lily’s party, which was unsurprising. She had another birthday to attend – her 90 year old aunt that has Alzheimer’s and lives with her. Because it’s important that the woman who has already had 89 other birthdays and can’t remember anything anyway have her birthday celebrated on the actual day, even if it means not attending, not calling, not writing and not sending anything to her four year old granddaughter. Can’t say it was surprising. Just like when I saw her seven days after my dad died and she said “Oh you’re here. Sorry about your uh, well you know,” and then turned around and walked away. That wasn’t surprising either. It also wasn’t hurtful. I don’t expect much out of her.
I have been watching my little bean for days – both of the girls actually, but its Bean’s birthday so I’ve been a little more reflective about her. And it’s pretty much impossible for me to not tie everything I am seeing, thinking and feeling into thoughts about my dad. And it’s impossible for me to not burst into tears several times a day. Last night at dinner I was watching her and thinking about how my dad will live through me, live through her. I tried to hide my racing thoughts. Then I would catch Rhonda looking at me. She knew. She always knows.
Lily is growing up into a thoughtful, curious and beautiful little girl. I love hearing whatever is coming out of her mouth. She reminds me of the curious little boy on Jerry Maguire that has a lisp and says “Did you know the human head weighs eight pounds?” Lily has a never-ending barrage of questions and when the questions lead to answers, she gets so excited! Like last night in the car, on the way to dinner. She asked (also with a lisp) “Whath a curve ball?” Though it was kind of hard to explain, every time she understood a little more about it she’d get excited and ask another question. “Oh! You mean the ball goeth a different way? Oh! Like golf ball? By it thelf?!” Unbelievably awesome.
I have to also log how proud of Ava I am this week. It’s hard to have it be your sister’s birthday. They both go through it every year. However, Ava has been spectacular this time. At Lily’s play date, Bird was showing people around and introducing them to each other. She was teaching them how to do crafts and showing them where toys were. Then, when it was time to sing and open presents, she sat by her sister and helped her as needed – a far cry from birthdays in the past when she starts getting agitated as the attention on Lily grows. I am so proud of her this week. Especially because I know there is a lot weighing on my little Bird’s brain. I hope Lily handles Ava’s birthday like that this year.