Dashiell is three today – and this is the first birthday that feels like it truly belongs to him. When he turned one, the milestone brought us back to his intense birth and our heady transformation into parents, experiences we were still assimilating. It was all about us surviving the first 365 days as a family, and we wanted to throw a party to celebrate this momentous accomplishment with our friends, who were mostly childless at the time. Since he was a baby and oblivious to the fact that it was his birthday, that's what we did.
I have a thing for costume parties, the more esoteric the better, so when I declared that I wanted to throw an early hip hop "Grandmaster Dash and the Furious First Birthday" themed bash, Chris gave me a skeptical look, but ran with it. Our friends and family were game, and it turned out to be an epic party. We had everything from inflatable boom boxes and vinyl record-topped cupcakes to a DJ spinning Run-D.M.C., Grandmaster Flash, Whodini and the like. None of Dash's birthdays are likely ever to live up to it. In retrospect we set the bar too high too soon. When he's sixteen, we'll still be pulling out the photos as proof that he's already had the best birthday party ever.
When Dash turned two, we had another fun – but not nearly as cool – petting zoo party. This time around, friends had started having children so there were some babies and a few pals of Dashiell's, but it was still more adults than kids. Luckily, even grown ups love cuddling piglets and bunnies
This year, Dash has is keenly aware of and excited for his birthday. This is his special day. He has personal interests, favorite foods, and toys he wants as gifts. He's a real little person now! Unfortunately, the timing is off to throw a big party, so instead we're making the entire day about Dash and his favorite things (popcorn, Paw Patrol, playground, etc.), culminating in a fun dinner.
Beyond balloons and cupcakes, three marks a huge year for Dash. Physically he's gained inches in height and exchanged some of his baby softness for little boy brawn, but developmentally he's also grown tremendously. Since starting preschool, he's blossomed socially and intellectually, acquiring a great group of friends and wowing us with his curiosity and wit. And he's funny – like, genuinely funny. As his wonderful preschool teacher says, Dash is an "old soul." All that AND he took on the role of big brother with surprising grace for a toddler.
That's not to say that it's been easy; Dash is a quick witted, energetic toddler who can completely exhaust me.
"It's like a jungle sometimes it makes me wonder how I keep from going under." - Grandmaster Flash
Despite being the person who can push me closest to the edge, Dash is also the first person to ask me if I'm okay when I stub my toe, share his toy with a smaller child, and make a shockingly perceptive joke. With or without head-to-toe Adidas athletic gear, he's always a grandmaster in our house.