Saturday, July 24, 2010

Easy to Please

John’s third birthday was a pure delight. Unjaded by consumerism, unaware that birthdays should have ‘themes,” John lives in the moment and feasts on simple pleasures.

John’s good buddy celebrated his birthday a week ago. Before his party I zipped up to the store and found two cool motorcycles to give him. John was duly impressed, but thankfully not to the point of having a colossal meltdown when gift giving time rolled around.

For weeks, I had been asking John, “What’s coming up?”

“Ma burtday!” John would yell.

After Henry’s birthday, John began saying “Ma burtday. Ma motacycle burtday!”

I knew I needed to purchase a motacycle or two.

On D-Day minus two, I remembered the bag ‘o toys I had picked up at a thrift store. I had thrown it in my cart without opening it. Turns out my $1.00 had bought four nifty, vintage motorcycles. I was so excited. With John bedded down for the night, I scoured the house for small boxes, wrapped the motorcycles individually, and put them on the dining room table.

I should have had the movie camera standing by when John woke up Friday morning. He threw his hands up in the air. He danced. He stacked these small gifts and gave them a hug.

We had decided a simple celebration with the family and Godparents was the order of the day. I wanted to do something special, but what to do when it's one hundred and a zillion degrees? I thought if the temperature were anywhere near reasonable (say, 95 degrees) we would head for the zoo. A glance at the forecast ruled that out quickly.

Too young for bowling, too hot for putt putt, we decided to go to … Chuck E. Cheese. People who know me well know that this is not my favorite establishment. I first darkened the door of Chuck’s place when Tim was about three. A friend was having a birthday party on a Saturday night. I think I still have moments of PTSD from that evening. Way back then, our Chuck E. Cheese was about one third of the size it is now. It was small, dark, and unbelievably loud.

When I could take it no more, I scooped up Tim and started to leave. Uninitiated as I was with their thorough security procedures, I attempted to walk out the door with my child. Thanks goodness this was before 9/11; I might still be in the clink. A friend rescued me from the clutches of security and explained the hidden i.d. to me. I am not exaggerating when I say that I almost shaking when I got to my car. Way, way too much.

Eventually I reached détente in my relationship with the big rat. Go early – keep it brief. The bottom line is that my kids do enjoy it. When the weather’s stifling, it’s a fun alternative.

So off we went to Chuck E. Cheese. Both sets of grandparents sent birthday money so I bought a gazillion tokens. We had a great time. John – whose favorite video is There Goes a Monster Truck – got to ride a monster truck over and over and over again. How fun is that?

Early on it was a bit crowded as a day camp apparently was on a field trip. The cynic in me noted that these children were wearing t-shirts that read “Camp Enhancement.” What exactly does Chuck E. Cheese enhance? Your waistline? Your credit card balance? Let me just stifle my bad self. Détente. Détente. Chuck and I are pals.

We finished the day with cake and ice cream and the company of John’s Godparents. John thoroughly enjoyed the cake which came to us via Duncan Hines. He was blissfully unaware that I had planned to sculpt a motorcycle shaped confection to blow his socks off. His socks were already blown by a day full of simple gifts and his favorite people.

May we all be so easy to please.

Happy birthday, child of my heart.

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