Oliver Valentino turns 5!

Today my son Oliver turned five years old. He is my youngest of two boys. There’s an old parenting quote- “the days are long but the years are short” not sure who said it,  but it holds true for me.  It feels as though I am still a new parent but yet, I can’t quite remember life before being a parent. What did I do when I woke up? What did I do with all the freedom? I suppose it is not possible to understand the freedom one has without having had children. If that makes sense. Kind of like getting Instagram. It tethers you- what did I do with all my fertile time (thats a typo ‘free’time, but hey it works) before Instagram? What did I do when I pooped? During tv commercials? While walking the dog? Waiting for my coffee order? Or to avoid a conversation with a stranger or someone I don’t feel like talking to? And to keep updated on every friend or stranger I have ever come accross in life?!

Back to Oliver- what I gained  in the perceived loss of freedom is a great, deep sense of purpose and responsibility (unlike what I get from Instagram), and my own mortality. Mortality. Mortality, that’s a heavy subject. How did I get to mortality in talking about the joys of parenting?  I have almost found comfort in it, in some odd way.  We are mortal, we’re born, we grow, we love, we live, then we die. My sons will be on this planet long after I’m gone. Enjoy each moment, because they will pass as will all of us.

Living in Los Angeles – it’s mostly season less. And without seasons how do we gauge time? I can remember before having kids I went through some periods of depression. I was tired for no particular reason and lacking a real direction – wait I’m way off track. I’ll save that for my next therapy session with Miriam, my estranged therapist. We’re on a break.

Back to Oliver turning 5! We had a party at a community center at a park near us. We rented out a room in advance and hired an amazing “performer” but she doesn’t really perform, she runs the party- wrangles all the kids, plays games, brings music, bubbles and face paint! And leads us in song when it’s time for cake. It is a very wise investment. Oliver loved the whole day. It went smooth. But smooth isn’t fun to hear about- let me discuss the bumps in the road.

I have celiac diesease- not really what I’d consider a disease, like I don’t consider myself to be diseased, but I guess it’s a disease. Basically, I just can’t eat gluten. It is an expensive, lifelong annoying disease but in the grand scheme of diseases…if I had no choice and had to choose a disease to have, I’d be happy to choose this one. Back to the party, the LEGO themed party. Two gluten free pasta dishes, fresh fruit, raw vegetables, pirates booty, hummus, ranch and a huge glutenous pizza. As for cake- we did three. Two regular (chocolate and vanilla) and one gluten free -from and gluten free vegan bakery. My dad usually gets the cakes for the birthday partys. This year I told him to choose the flavor color decorations for gluten-free cake and he did. Monica (wife) setup the whole room and it looked great. Bold LEGO colored decorations and food labeled with little chalk board signs- everything and looked awesome. Then my dad comes with the cake… a big pastel pink cake with a petite powder  blue and pale yellow LEGO spongebob drawn neatly on top.  My dad was so excited to show it off, but not in my WILDEST dream would I imaging this would be a cake I would have for my 5 year old sons birthday. I didn’t say anything. But I was worried Monica would. And she did. Monica took a look- “PINK! It looks like a fucking baby shower cake! Did he think we’re having a baby shower!” She didn’t yell it as the exclamation point implies, but that was her intention as she restrained herself, I could tell.

I thought it had smoothed over I had diverted Monica’s distaste with it, BUT my dad wanted some prise for the cake and he kept fishing! He kept bringing it up. Wanted us all to tell him how much we loved the cake he choose. Finally I said it, not as brave and brazen as it wood seem. “It’s pink, dad.” (Oh and I’m not a dad  that won’t allow certain colors or toys for my boys. If Oliver wanted a pink cake I’d let him have a pink cake, or a doll or any gender specific toy, but that is not the case.)

Back to my dad. He’s perplexed, like I just said the most absurd thing he’s heard in a week. “It’s not pink. It’s strawberry.”


Wait, my dad is a smart man. An author and college professor for 30+ years. Strawberry is not a color.

Let me Rewind-

He called me from the bakery when he ordered it. I did mention Oliver likes strawberries (in addition to vanilla lemon chocolate- it’s cake kid generally like it all- I’d argue kids base their cake likes on color over flavor), but I didn’t mean a pink cake.  And then …I remember he’s color blind.  I thought about the tattooed, hipster, earthy employees at the vegan gluten-free bakery he purchased it from. And I zeroed my anger in at them. How could they- in good conscience, decorate this cake in pastel pink with pale yellow accents for a five year old boys birthday- and charge over $100! It’s outrageous! How dare they.  I could get a cake 2 or 3 times the size at Costco for $15? (Granted I myself couldn’t partake in eating that Costco cake due to gluten, but it would save me thousands of calories)  I stepped away. The moment passed and eventually the party began and all was forgotten. Until the ride home. Then our anger turned to the imaginary people who may or may not have held judgement on us for having that pastel  pink cake for our sons 5th birthday. Those unevolved assholes! It’s a strawberry cake!

Happy birthday Oliver!


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