Ryan Trares: A birthday to truly celebrate

Where did nine years go?

Anthony hit his big ninth birthday this week — his last one in single digits. And for a week now, it’s been a celebration that’s seemed like it will never end.

We started with his birthday party, which we held a week ago at our house. Anthony is in a big Star Wars phase these days, obsessed with all things Yoda and Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader and Chewbacca. He made his decision to have his party in a “galaxy far, far away,” so for months, my wife (and me, to some extent) have been finding decorations, coming up with party games and planning an intergalactic good time.

On the day of the party, Anthony bounced out of bed, dressed himself in his Grogu (better known as Baby Yoda) t-shirt and birthday hat, and (kind of) patiently waited.

First our family showed up, one-by-one showering the birthday boy with hugs, kisses and gifts; they may have gone a little overboard, but who can blame them?

Then, Anthony’s friends got here. Classmates who he hadn’t seen since school ended in May grabbed a blow-up lightsaber and a Jedi robe, and they all got to pretending they were battling the Dark Side. The Force was strong in them.

They ate pizza, cupcakes and ice cream. They worked off the food in the bounce house before moving back inside for a Death Star-themed game where they won prizes. The party was a hit.

And since Anthony’s big day always falls around the Fourth of July holiday, we’ve just kept going. Trips to the zoo, a day at the pool and a session at the trampoline park kept the fun going. He was ecstatic, even if we were all a little worn out after a few days.

For some reason, this birthday has hit me hard. Not that I didn’t get nostalgic every other year, but now he’s right on the precipice of tween-dom. He’s growing up.

When he was born, Anthony was two weeks early. He was so small it was like holding on to a stuffed animal when I had him in my arms, just 5 pounds, 11 ounces. He seemed too delicate to even move; I was torn between wanting to put him down and keeping him safe in my arms.

So much has changed over his nine years. Anthony is still a little guy, but he’s tough, at times fearless, and always up for a challenge. He’s grown into a boy with endless curiosity, who constantly has questions about the world around him and who demands a Google deep-dive if I can’t find him his answer.

He’s funny, thoughtful and kind. He’s the sort of person I had hoped he would be, and the kind of kid I wish I would have been.

As a parent, it’s as much a time for reflection as it is a time of celebration.

So where did nine years go? I’m not entirely sure, but I know they’ve been filled with giggles and proud moments, some tears but way more smiles.

Can’t wait to see what’s next.

Ryan Trares is a senior reporter and columnist for the Daily Journal. Send comments to [email protected].