29 August 2010
Birthdays are big at our house. We LUV birthdays. Ok, Mike doesn't like birthdays - his or anyone else's. On his 22nd birthday, I made him a cake but he "wasn't hungry." Twenty years later we still fight about the many ways in which that is wrong. But Liam and I love our birthdays and we celebrate hard. Birthdays usually involve too much planning, too many people, too many treats and maybe some karaoke. And, in Liam's case, a trip to the state fair where he gets all the pronto pups, Tom Thumb Donuts, Sweet Martha's Cookies and root beer that he wants. Plus 5 rides not including the giant slide.
So this year, August 26th loomed before us with a big question mark. On this day, Liam would turn 8. After just 5 weeks in our new home. In a new neighborhood. Before the first day of school. You know.....where the kids are. Would there be anyone to invite to a party? If you don't have a party, does the birthday still count? Is an 8 year old clever enough to know that it's pathetic to only invite people over 40 to your party?
I shouldn't have worried.....because Liam's purpose in life is to meet people. And he doesn't wait for the Welcome Wagon - he knocks on doors. Well, I can't let him knock on stranger's doors by himself so, more accurately, I knock on doors. He takes me by the hand and forces me to leave the comfort of my anonymity - that place where everyone likes you and no one rejects you - to stand awkwardly on someone's doorstep like a door-to-door salesman. And what I'm selling is myself. And my child. As in "Hi. You've never seen us before. Would you like to be friends? Here's a list of our previous relationships. Please don't think we're weird."
And.......jackpot. He had 2 friends before the moving van even arrived. The first one barely blinked and told us to grab our swimsuits and jump in their pool. In the pool was a 7 year old girl. Perfect.
The second one was mowing the lawn; and it's never a good idea to sneak up on someone who's mowing the lawn. So I'm cautious and I'm coming up with a speech to cover up the craziness of the fact that we've lived here all of 6 minutes. He sees us and smiles with a total look of recognition. Shuts off the mower and says, "We've been waiting for you." Apparently, they have a 7 year old boy. Who is an only child. The pool girl is an only child also.
So they need us as much as we need him.
So that's 2 friends. Add a brother/sister team from across the street and you have a birthday party. And this time, when Liam begs for a party at Chuck E. Cheese, we don't say hell to the no. We look at each other and whisper "This may be our only birthday party with 4 kids. Let's do it now! Check that box! So he can't hold it against us in therapy!"
So I play skee ball (my only arcade game), Mike shoots at stuff, and the kids run from game to game - and I mean literally RUN. There's no walking at Chuck E. Cheese - until the tokens dry up and their arms are full of cheap crap from China that will get stepped on in the middle of the night.
The electric current running through that place lends an electricity to our tiny party that makes it feel real........not makeshift or sad. Thank you for that Chuck E. And Henry, Sophia, Luke and Skyler do a fine job of standing in for Ezra, Ambrose, Carson, Sam, Jack, Seth, Cal, Reese, Louis, Amelia, Francesca, Aidan and Nadia. I was worried. But I think we pulled it off.