Today was the monthly birthday party at the deaf school kindergarten. It’s more of a ceremony, I think. All of the children sit in a row in the playroom, with all the mothers in a row behind them, and the birthday kid(s) make an entrance. This month’s celebrant was Y., Lilia’s classmate. He just turned six. So Y. marched, er, ran to the table at the front of the room and sat down and then a mother brought a cake (your basic white cake with whipped cream and strawberries; there is no other kind in Japan, apparently) to him. The cake is always decorated with some character from TV or manga that the kid likes. I think neutral things like rabbits or hearts would be more wholesome, but that’s just me. Y. likes a cartoon dog called Cinnamon Roll, so that was his cake decoration. Then the teacher put candles on the cake and he blew them out. I once asked a mother if the kids make a wish first and she had no idea what I was talking about. I explained the American tradition, which she found very quaint, but no one seems to think it’s odd just to put candles on the cake and immediately blow them out. The cake ceremony is followed by the card-giving ceremony. Everyone makes a card featuring the kid’s favorite TV character and then the kids present the cards. This is followed by the entertainment portion, in which the birthday boy or girl performs something. Lilia, for the record, did somersaults when it was her turn. Y. did three connect-the-dot prints. Everyone was very impressed that he could connect the dots in order up to 60. Then there was the group photo, followed by the washing of hands and eating of cake. For some reason, Y. kept coming at me. I think he thought I had control over the cake.