Cydney Milner turned five on Sunday. By Monday morning, I was feeling hungover from the preparation, execution, and the financial toll the weekend took on my mother and me.
Cyd enjoyed the day and the whole weekend. We had a birthday party for her at her school on Friday afternoon. She wanted a Little Mermaid-themed party. This seemed to work out perfectly. When Timile was pregnant, we joked that almost every year, we were going to have a different themed Disney Princess Party. When she was three, it was Frozen, four was The Princess and the Frog, and this year was centered around Ariel. There was a 48″ Ariel balloon that I had to buckle in my seat belt and contemplated keeping for HOV lane purposes. She was all too excited and for the rest of the day, she reminded us that she is about to be five years old; just in case we forgot.
Sunday afternoon, the family traveled through in the one-degree weather to Manhattan to the American Girl Cafe for tea, snacks, and cake.
We were a little late, so I went inside to check in for our reservation while everyone parked. I felt very awkward as a large black man, sitting at a table for ten in solitude, while in a room full of little girls. I just kept my head down and peered into my phone because I was feeling like the biggest creep in America with my VIP table. I was thankful when people showed up. That was one of the longest ten minutes in life.
We walked around the three floors as Cydney looked around at the dolls and outfits she wanted. To her surprise, Neighbour showed up, as well.
Since the cuisine at the American Girl Cafe was finger food, we came back to Long Island, ordered Chinese Food, and sang Happy Birthday to Cyd. While she ran around with my nephew and cousin, Tyler, I watched the NBA All-Star Game and passed out for two hours. It seems as if whenever there is no stimuli and I have sit idle for more than five minutes, I fall asleep. My daughter went to bed happy and that’s all that mattered.
The time between February 14, 2011 and 2016 seems like both a lifetime ago and yesterday. Cydney’s birth was a surprise, because Timile and I were going in for her 37 week checkup. Within nine hours, we went from just seeing the doctor to a family so quickly, we didn’t even have a name picked out, yet. Almost as rapid as those events occurred, as a family, we went from giving life to looking at options to save Timile’s. It hasn’t been until recently, that I have looked back at 2011 and realized that a LOT of shit happened. Cydney’s birth wasn’t just a day that changed everything because I became a father; it was the turning point in life in which a complete paradigm shift began. I’m actually very thankful that everything happened the way that it did.
Right after Cydney went to sleep Saturday night, I thought to myself “I remember my fifth birthday.” It was the first time in which my birthday fell on Thanksgiving. My parents wanted to take my sister and I to the Macy’s Parade. We were late and only saw the Santa Claus float because my father and I were engulfed in a game of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on Nintendo.
I mention that to say that five years old is the moment in which I still have vivid memories of. I can remember a handful of things that happened before; but they are mostly flashes and still pictures encapsulated in my mind that I scroll through like old ones in my phone. That first half-decade really solidifies who we are as people. Everything else after that is fair game, as far as remembrance. This means that I have to operate differently in how I do things around her. I don’t know what she will and won’t remember.
…Hopefully, this birthday will be one of those that she does remember as vividly as I do November 22, 1990.