Unless otherwise noted, all materials on this blog are (c) 2009 by Madeleine Vedel
I turned 43 on the 13th of May. For once, my birthday was neither on a Friday (the day of my arrival on this earth) nor on Mother's day (American Mother's day that is, the French one is just around the corner). The last time this happened, it was actually quite a lovely day as I was with my mother, and Leo was with me. With her encouragement he wrote me an extraordinarily beautiful letter. I was in tears of joy and gratefulness. I think it is still my favorite gift ever.
However, when you're a single mom in your own home, and having a birthday, I've learned, your kids just don't know what to do about it. Last year, my awesome au pair Hayley orchestrated a party, a special gift, balloons, brownies, candles, the works. But this year, doing without home-based help, the day slipped by somewhat uneventfully. I had a lovely SMS in the morning from my vintner, and a couple of lovely emails from abroad, some facebook notes.
It's not really a big deal, but it's curious. Kids need to be guided, led to gift-giving, to celebrating another. They've been raised to have high expectations for their own birthdays (and for Christmas morning if you celebrate it). And, as a friend pointed out, it is quite likely that the wonderful birthday Hayley and the boys organized for me last year, is precisely why they did nothing this year. How do two little boys top that? and can they give a gift if they can't purchase it? The ever-present materialism of this world leads many a child to think that the only real gift is one that costs money. I truly do try to teach them otherwise, but it hasn't necessarily sunk in. Reading a book the week before about a little boy who offers his mother a bouquet of flowers and fresh-picked berries didn't apparently resonate. How do we convey that simply a hug and a wish for a lovely day, perhaps with a pretty hand-drawn card would be just dandy (telling them this ahead of time didn't work either...). Ah well.
Leo and I went out for a walk hand in hand before his sports' practice that evening, and as we did he explained to me that had he been able to, he would have made me a ring, perhaps at the iron forgery. I pointed out that rings are rarely in iron, more often in silver or gold. And he said he would paint it blue.
Voila, my gift in all its beautiful imagery. And, in all the fields around us, poppies are blooming like crazy. Thank you world.