birthday parties

okay, i hope not all of these posts this month are going to be moaning about being older!

last night i went to a birthday party for my second-cousin’s one-year-old daughter. as with all one-year-old birthday parties, it was a big to-do with lots of activities for the kids and lots of snacks and food. i sat there, listening to the music, remembering birthday parties from all stages of my life, probably because i knew i’d have to write this post later on 😛

i remembered them from when i was younger, playing with my cousins or staying near my parents, wondering who all these people were who came up to us and exclaimed “wow! look at you! you’re so big now! i remember when you were an infant!” i’d smile but then instantly cling to my mom or dad. (i was so not a people person even then! haha!) as soon as the person would leave, i’d start grilling my mom or dad–who was that? how do you know him/her? i would be tugged by my parents to go do an activity, i’d pick at my food, and i’d be entranced with whatever performing act was there. they’d call for dancers, and my mom or dad would prod me to go up on stage, but i’d always run off, scared. then we’d say our goodbyes, and i’d fall asleep on the way home.

then i got to the pre-teen & teen stage (and a little bit beyond) where i was embarrassed to attend these. i mean, i’d still go, and, again, endure the “wow, you’ve gotten so big/tall/old! you’re a young lady now!” of people, but this time i knew who they were. i’d still smile shyly and nod politely, but still wasn’t much a talker. and at every one of these, i’d be asked to go up and dance a song–sometimes the musician would have to call me by name to go up. and i’d dance one or two numbers and then hurry back to my seat, embarrassed. i so don’t like people watching me yet i loved hula and people always think that oh, you know hula, go up and dance! i do not learn hula so i could dance on demand–i learn it for the moves and the poetry and the stories. but, that was mostly my role at parties at that point of my life, and i always found it embarrassing, but knew that that was what i had to do. instead of flat-out refusing and running off the stage as i did when i was younger, i’d stand there, poised, wait for the beginning notes of songs that i’ve danced to many, many times, and start to dance. i got more and more comfortable as i got older, and my parents didn’t need to prod me as much any more. i’d just go and dance, and then hurry back and sit down, relieved it was over and that i could now enjoy the rest of the party.

then there got to the point where i was the mom of a young one. all of a sudden you’re getting involved in the kids’ activities because of your child. you’re tugging them to stand in line to get tattoos or balloon animals; you’re holding the two plates of food; you’re being approached by all these family members as they rave over your child about how much he looks like you, how big he’s getting, how they remember when he was just a baby. you’re still picking at your own food because you know you’ll have to finish your child’s plate after he’s done, because he’s picking at his food. and my son is just like me, he clings to me as i did my mom and dad. he’s not as smiley, though. but as much as i’d tell him go play with his cousins, he would stick by me. i always wondered if that’s because he has no siblings, so he doesn’t know how to act with other kids. maybe. once in a while i’d be asked to dance, but because i’d be with my little one, that wouldn’t expect it any more, or demand that i hurry up and come on stage. once in a while, my mom would take my son so i could go up and dance, but for the most part, i was busy with the little one so i didn’t get asked as often, which was fine by me.

now. last night, i was now the mom of that pre-teen who is embarrassed to come to these. what shocked me as i walked over to the table was how old my relatives looked. all those aunties and great aunts and my mom’s cousins and such–they all looked so old. gray hair, wrinkles, big glasses, moving slower. gosh. that was like a slap in the face. these were the people who would come up to me when i was younger, telling me that i was getting to be such a young lady–and now they were telling me my son is getting to be such a young man. i couldn’t help but think what i must look like! i looked at my cousins’ kids, which vary from teens to toddlers, and i am thinking the same things–gosh, they got so big! i remember when they were infants! i look at the teens and think, gosh, in a while, they will be having kids, and i will be the great-aunt who comes up and says wow, look at them! (only, i wouldn’t say that. but i’d think that!). i mean, i’m always thinking that about my nephew! i remember fondly being the aunty who took him around to all the different activity stations when he was a year, two years old. and now he’s almost 19, and he’s in college, and who knows? he could be having his own kids soon. my sister (not the one who is his mom) and i always look at each other and go, gee, remember when he was little? now look at him! i find that i’m still trying to get my son involved, as i did when he was younger, but this time he’s even more reluctant because he looks down at those things like “for babies.” but at least i don’t have to finish his plate any more! he does that himself. 🙂

the thing that hit me the most was when they called up people to dance. the band was playing a medley at first, and i knew every one of the songs. a couple of times they asked for dancers to come up while they were singing, and i tell you, i was tempted! i am so itching to get back to dancing. there was even a song they sang that i know my son knows from his play last year, so i was telling him to go up and dance. he told me to go up and dance–he could tell i wanted to (i must’ve been absent-mindedly moving my feet or hands to the music–i admit it). i told him i would only go up if he went with me. he, of course, said no. then finally, the musicians called people up– first it was these girls who were about 8 or 9, and i thought, aw, how cute. then they brought up these little boys to dance, and they were maybe 5 or so. and again, aw, how cute. but then they called up the teens. and as i watched them dance, i started to feel the nostalgia creep in. that used to be me. shy, but if called upon to do a dance, i will. i saw how deftly they moved about on stage, their long, shiny hair lifting as they spun around, their shy smiles at the audience. and i felt sad. that used to be me. i lowered my head to hide my tears. that used to be me.

then i looked around at everyone else. i realized i was the age of my aunties and great-aunts and such who would come up to me when i was younger. i would soon be their age, looking at all these young ones. i looked at all these little ones running around, and thought about how the next time i see them, they might be having kids of their own, and they’d be the ones running around after their kids, like their parents are doing to them now. i watched people at all the different stations, at all the servers of the food, at all the people eating. and i thought. and i reminisced.

and i never got called up to dance.


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