birthday, birthdays, parenting

Fire at 51: A bit too much drama for my birthday

Everyone knows that Facebook doesn’t tell the whole story. Sometimes it tells half of it; sometimes it’s a third. But it’s rarely the whole picture.

Two weeks ago was, to put it mildly, very crazy in our house. One kid had a basketball accident which required a trip to the emergency center, then a trip to the general doctor, then a trip to the orthopedic, another trip for x-rays and finally a trip to have the x-rays interpreted. Sigh. We had a few other chaotic things happening as well, as we headed towards the two-day holiday for Shabbat and Shavuot.

It was no wonder that my Hebrew birthday fell by the wayside. Except, of course, for Yakir. Yakir, unbeknownst to me, took himself to the grocery store for ingredients and then spent three hours while I was out making a masterpiece cake for me. On Thursday afternoon, we found a 20-minute window when everyone was home and Yakir assembled the cake and got ready to bring it out.

I knew he was about to come out with a cake, so I ignored the commotion happening in the kitchen. There was a bunch of yelling and other activity. Josh looked white when he brought out the cake but looked at me and said, “Just smile and enjoy. He worked so hard!”

What I did not fully know at that time, but would soon come to understand, was that Yakir had set the kitchen cabinets on fire. Lest you think I exaggerate – he used these sparklers that I assume are only for outdoor use and he didn’t realize how quickly or how high they would light. So when he lit them under the kitchen cabinet in preparation for my surprise – he literally lit the cabinet on fire. Fortunately, there were big people around and the fire was put out quickly.

It was an awesome cake. Just awesome. And Josh and I both tried to enjoy the fun and to ignore the kitchen. I did a better job than did he, I think, since I had not yet stepped foot into the fire kingdom.

Yakir, of course, felt absolutely horrified and worried – and we completely ignored the situation and told him how delicious the cake was, as we dug in. The next day, so it wouldn’t be related to all the work he did, we talked about fire safety and how to make sure nothing like that every happened again.

When I finally went into the kitchen to see the damage, I was obviously not thrilled. But once it was cleaned up a bit and less obvious to anyone but us, I found myself having another reaction. When we rented our first apartment, we bought these beautiful wood dressers. And within the first few weeks of having them, our puppy nibbled at the bottom and at one of the drawers and left lasting marks. At the time I was so annoyed and disappointed that our beautiful new furniture had been marred. Now, however, so many years later when we only have memories of Griffey, I smile when I see those marks. They are part of my memory of him and the annoyance turned to both a funny story, and a lasting memory of my puppy, pretty quickly.

I look at the singe marks now that we will probably fix at some point (but who knows when) and all I see is love. I see an 11-year-old who remembered my birthday and worked so hard to make a cake for me. I see a reminder that we have to slow down sometimes (and have the chance to supervise exuberant purchases to make sure they aren’t dangerous). And I see the father and older brother who quickly came to the rescue, put the fire out and covered for the kid so that his surprise to me wouldn’t be completely ruined.

And whether we live with the fire damage for only a short while, or a long one, it really doesn’t bother me. I’m surprised by my own reaction, but as life gives us challenges, we simply have to decide which ones to worry about and which to see as character building, lesson-learning experiences.

It was a great cake; no one got hurt; and the kitchen will continue to function for our needs – even if it’s a bit charred around the edges. And that’s the full – real – story behind my Facebook birthday post.

1 thought on “Fire at 51: A bit too much drama for my birthday

  1. What a parenting moment! Yakir was so thoughtful and worked so hard to surprise you. Glad you reacted with love and understanding.

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