It was just a month ago that we celebrated your 3rd birthday with your best friend Sophie. I had pointed out the fact that your other friends who showed up to your party were all girls.
And for Sophie’s birthday party this past weekend at Shipwrecked Playhouse, the boys were unable to make it as well.
Here you are again in a situation where you’re the only boy, surrounded by girls.
Not that you minded, or even thought it was out of the ordinary.
In fact, you were quite preoccupied by the fact Sophie had told you earlier in the week at school that she had a surprise for you that you’d receive at her party.
The moment you sat down next to her as the cake was being cut, you politely yet very directly asked her, “What’d you get for me, Sophie?”
She didn’t tell you.
However, you patiently waited for her to open her gifts… knowing afterwards you could see what was in your goodie bag from her.
Sophie and your friend Madison both eagerly watched you open your goodie bag, as if that were just as important as the actual birthday kid opening her gifts.
You were happy: There was Play-Doh in there- which I am finding is like currency among 3 year-olds, as cigarettes are in prison.
Afterwards, I really enjoyed observing the way you played, versus the way your girl friends did.
While Sophie and Madison used the phone to repeatedly announce clean-up on aisle 7…
You drove the Lightning McQueen car around the indoor playground, exploring the ins and outs of the joint. Granted, you visited Sophie and Madison, by parking right in front of them as they played on the phone. You served as the sole, straight-faced audience member.
After a few minutes, you drove away without even the thought of giving them any applause.
You acted like a total boy the whole time. And they acted girls, accordingly.
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I can’t take credit for the idea to go to Build-A-Bear Workshop, just the truck ride idea.
Mommy cleverly thought of going to Build-A-Bear as a way to celebrate with not only my parents, your cousin Calla, Aunt Dana and Uncle Andrew, but also your great-grandma, who you’ve only met a few times.
Like any man shopping, you immediately identified the animal you want to stuff, a red panda, and got to work.
Sure, you were impressed by the fact you got to pump the stuffing into your red panda by pressing a foot pedal. And by getting to place the heart in your red panda yourself.
But mainly, you just wanted to build your red panda, whatever steps that entailed, to ensure the red panda was officially yours.
Meanwhile, your cousin Calla enjoyed the journey, evidently impressed by the many potential accessories that were available to her pink penguin.
(She ended up getting her a tutu.)
You didn’t care about clothes, scents, or sounds. You just wanted your red panda.
When it came time to name your new friend, you decided to keep things simple:
You named him “Panda.”
Sometimes when your parents plan a seemingly good idea, it doesn’t quite work out as well as it did in our minds.
However, this actually went the way it was supposed to. It was appropriate and a lot of fun.
Not to mention, it wasn’t really expensive and it was an extremely unique experience for a 3 year-old boy and his girl cousin who is 7 months younger.
From Build-A-Bear, we loaded up in the truck and made our way towards the canyon, as you snacked on some delicious sour dough bread from the Earth Fare near the mall.
And of course, “Panda” was there the whole ride across the state lines of Georgia and Alabama.
To be continued…
Disclaimer: The vehicle mentioned in this story was provided at the expense of Toyota, for the purpose of reviewing.
Your 3rd birthday, this past Saturday, marked the first birthday of yours where you’ve been old enough to truly decide for yourself what you wanted to buy with a gift card.
And you instantly knew what you wanted to buy: a remote control truck.
The proud smile on your face in this picture says it all.
As Mommy and I took our time looking for Christmas gifts for your cousin Calla, you so patiently (!) followed us around; never saying a word or begging to leave.
Instead, you toted around that remote control monster truck; the box was as nearly as big as you are.
You were so happy to be getting a “big boy toy.”
Honestly, I was a bit surprised you wanted such a complicated toy.
Or maybe you actually are old enough to want a remote control toy?
Once we got home, we wasted no time whatsoever tearing the box apart.
While you definitely wanted me to teach you right away how to use the remote control to make it go, about ten minutes later you were on the ground, pushing the thing across the carpet.
Sure, it was fun for you getting to drive your new remote control monster truck across your parking lot of Hot Wheels, but I suppose you missed the hands on experience of pushing a toy and making the motor sounds yourself.
The most fun part of it for me was hiding the remote control behind my back while you played with your truck on the carpet, then making it suddenly drive away from you, then having it come back charging at you.
I cracked up at your response the first time I did that:
“Daddy, it moves by itself!”
Your innocent answer made me so happy. Plus, I loved helping you suspend your belief that this toy truck really does have a mind of its own.
The remote control, as far as you’re concerned, is optional.
For your last two birthdays, Mommy and I didn’t keep things simple.
We combined both friends and family to have an official birthday party, each time.
Even though our “family life” is so much more stabilized and easier than it was for the past two years, without giving it much thought, perhaps by default, Mommy and I decided to have a purposesly low key (!) birthday party for you.
So we did things a bit off beat…
First, on Saturday, the morning of your birthday, we had your first and best friend over, with her parents.
As this picture collage that Sophie’s parents made illustrates, you two had plenty of unscripted fun.
My favorite part to witness was when Sophie suggested, “Come on, Jack. Let’s go upstairs!”
So we all trekked up to your boy cave.
I’ve mentioned before, we have the top half of a rockasan in your bedroom that serves as a “boat.” You and Sophie had a great time giving each other rides in it.
And somehow, even though I was only feet away, I missed the moment when Sophie ended up with the toy basket on top of her head.
Of course, after lunch, both of you were in need of a nap, so the celebration came to an end, but not before we all had some of Mommy’s yummy vegan cupcakes!
After Sophie left, we aimed for a nap, which I think ended up turning into us watching part of Monsters, Inc. that Sophie got for you. (You now own your first Disney movie!)
Then later in the afternoon, we had two more of your friends up with their parents, and essentially repeated what happened earlier that day.
It wasn’t until just now, as I put these pictures together, that I realized only girls came to your birthday party.
(Your friend Troy was out of town and couldn’t make it, by the way.)
So it made it that much funnier that in the goody bags we gave to them, each friend received a Hot Wheels pick-up truck.
Yes, and that’s pretty much your 3rd birthday party. Of course, we’re going to spend next weekend with my family to celebrate your birthday with them… and I have a special surprise being shipped in from Atlanta… or I should say, driven in…
You’ll see what I mean in a couple days!
(Plus, I just have a feeling that to be so mellow about your 3rd birthday party, we will end up making up for it with your 4th birthday party.)
But I got addicted… and after that first time, I decided to officially change my format of writing about you, to where I write to you.
Exactly a year has passed since that night I sat at our coffee table and cried so hard, realizing my love for you.
Tonight, I’m less emotional in that sense. Instead, I’m feeling fully grounded in how I feel about you and how I understand my love for you.
Instead of a groundbreaking ephiphany, today I simply am grateful for the gift of peace of mind and heart; a gift the world can not give.
In this moment, that is my life. I think of that song, “On Top Of The World” by Imagine Dragons, to describe how I feel about you and me:
“I’m on top of the world, ‘ay
Waiting on this for a while now
Paying my dues to the dirt
I’ve been waiting to smile, ‘ay
Been holding it in for a while, ‘ay
Take you with me if I can
Been dreaming of this since a child
I’m on top of the world.”