The Tragic Tale of My First Birthday

I think my fascination with Hawaii began in the late 80s. Right around this exact time, if memory serves.

I was about to turn one. Kind of a big deal in a person’s life, right? According to Facebook and Instagram, parents go all out for first bdays. They smash their kid’s face in a cake, they rent bounce houses, ponies, invite friends over who probably don’t want to be there, hire photographers, etc. Because like I said, it’s a big deal.

For my first birthday my parents left me to go on vacation in Maui.

When they told me they were doing this about two weeks prior to my birthday my gut reaction was, okay guys, sure, sure, sure. Me too. We’re all going to Hawaii! See, I assumed it was a joke. A coverup for the big 1st birthday bash they were actually planning for me.

I practiced my responses and shocked faces in the mirror all week long. “What?! No way! All this? For me? I’m literally speechless right now!”

“A cake smash? I couldn’t! Okay, if you insist!”

On the day I saw them packing their suitcases, I couldn’t help but smirk and think, they’re really going all out for this ‘we’re going to Maui,’ bit. Well good for them. About time the third child got a little respect.

When they actually left the day before my birthday I pretended to look sad, but it was hard! I knew what they were up to, after all! Or I thought I did.

I rushed to my room to get ready for the big event. What would I wear? Who would be there? I only knew four people so I was excited to find out. I chatted happily with Bunny and begged her to share details, but her mouth was sewn shut. Would Sock be there? What about TV Control? Or Sippy? I hope they invited Hair!

One hour passed. Then another.

I sucked on my rubber shoe to pass the time.

Wonder when those jokesters were coming back. Gotta be soon, right? Bet they’re blowing up balloons.

I fell asleep waiting for their return. When I arose the next day they still weren’t around and the reality of the situation finally started to set in.

The look you make when you wake up on your first birthday and realize your parents left you for Hawaii.

I suppose I should be fair and mention that I wasn’t completely alone. My siblings were around and of course my parents had babysitters for us- the family Doberman named Zach and the “not-so-great-around-children,” cranky Cocker Spaniel, Daisy. As you can see they all tried their best to make me a cake of ketchup and mustard drizzled on some white bread. It was a little lopsided. But it’s the thought.

I spent most of the day alone in my room reading literature. Classics like, “Three Little Kittens!” “Words Are Fun,” and my personal fave, “Toot! Toot!” My books usually provided comfort, but not today. I felt tired. Jaded.

As I sat in my crib all alone that night so many years ago, a decorative birthday cone on my head that I had bought for myself earlier in the day (pitiful, I know) I took a swig from my bottle and wondered, what are my parents doing right now? Is Maui close? Is it across the street?

I glanced into the night sky and removed the cone from my head, feeling foolish I felt the need to mark the day with anything at all, and made a promise to myself to get to this magic place known as Maui someday. I also made a promise not to begrudge my parents for the choice they made. Thirty one years later I’ve managed to keep one of those promises.

I took one final drag of my thumb and willed myself to sleep. The next day I would wake up older. Wiser. One year and one day. Anything was possible.


Coming tomorrow:

New Summer Hat Trends! “Is that a fedora ora you just happy to see me?!”




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