Every day this year (except, perhaps, the time he was vomiting into a bucket in a hot flat in Havelock North) Max has asked me if it is his birthday.
I suppose, as we approached this new decade, Dom or I must have let slip that this was the year in which Max would turn four. And what with being away from home this Christmas and away from family too, Max has been enjoying a drip-drip effect with the presents. There were gifts on the day and more (those that hadn't made it into our luggage) when we eventually got home. Consequent trips to the post office have yielded yet more treats in snowflake wrapping paper within brown paper packaging. All these presents; it makes Father Christmas look downright half-hearted. So despite the drama of the first week of Max's new year (the aforementioned vomiting) he actually thinks 2010 is shaping up beautifully. And a birthday would do very nicely about now, thank you.
'No, it's not your birthday today.'
'Is it tomorrow then?'
'No, not tomorrow.'
'But it was Lailey's birthday?'
'Yes, but you have a different one, on a different day...several months away.'
January, February, March, April. We count the months. He's not interested in what happens after April.
Hunter is the next preschool friend to have a birthday. Max has obviously been thinking about it, a lot;
'Will Hunter look different?'
'What do you mean?'
I realise Max must have overheard us talk about people getting older, people changing; contrasts made more stark because of the distances we have imposed within our family by moving to America. It's all about degrees, but how is Max to know. I reassure him that Hunter will look just the same. After all, Lailey didn't change did she? And he'll see the same face looking back at him in the mirror on his own birthday. I just can't vouch the same for his mother, but I won't tell him so.