Well my eldest turned nineteen yesterday, so that meant twenty candles on her birthday cake. I don't know if mine is the only family to add "one to grow on" but we do. As my mother would say, my daughter is now in her twentieth year.
Despite the fact that she and her sister wouldn't get home until nine o'clock, the birthday girl insisted we wait to have dinner. It was her special day, after all. I suggested perhaps having the celebratory dinner on another evening, so we could eat when normal people do. But she'd have none of it: Birthdays are to be celebrated on the correct day, after all. And so we agreed: Dinner was to be served (in the form of takeout pizza) at nine, followed immediately by the cheesecake I'd baked the night before.
At eight forty-five, my husband and son went for pizza. I went to the kitchen, stomach growling, and began peeling carrots for the next day's school lunches.
A car pulled into the driveway. The dog barked. The garage door opened. An idea crept into my head: I set the peeler and the knife on the counter. I got down onto my knees. Then I sprawled face-down on the floor and closed my eyes. And as I lay there, waiting for the girls to come in, the thought occurred to me that perhaps this wasn't a good idea. Scaring one's offspring half to death never is.
I thought about leaping to my feet, before my daughters came in. But at forty-six (I guess that would put me in my forty-seventh year), leaping isn't much of an option anymore. The cool tile pressed against my cheek and the floor was rather comfortable. I giggled to myself as I waited.
This is what happens, I thought, when your kids are preparing to head off to college: You revert to your silly immature self, the self you used to be before you had to grow up, the self who has lurked just beneath the surface of your skin, biding its time, waiting to emerge and reveal to your kids who you truly are.
The door opened. "Oh," the birthday girl said.
And her sister quickly added, "Are you all right?"
"Hungry," I moaned.
"Not funny," one of them snapped as I struggled to my feet.
A car pulled into the driveway.
The dog barked.
The garage door open.
My husband and son returned with two large pizzas and a bottle of grape Crush. We dished out plates like playing cards and sat down to eat.
My daughter looked at me. "I never would have expected that from you, Mom."
My husband smiled at me and lifted his eyebrows.
"I was just really hungry," I said, pulling off a piece of sausage and popping it in my mouth.