Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Birthday Digressions

In January of 2009, Joel was confident that it was time for us to consider having our second child.  Cael was 14 months old and an obedient, sweet toddler that we thanked God for every day in a how-did-we-get-so-lucky kind of way.  I was hesitant, however, and in no rush to jump back into sleepless nights and pacifiers and bottles and breast pumps and projectile spit-up.

Joel, in his infinite wisdom, painted a picture of another fall baby, wrapped up in blankets alongside the three of us as we sipped hot cocoa at football games and tickled baby feet at Christmas.  It was a beautiful dream, but I was hoping for a spring baby and to avoid another very pregnant summer with sweaty thighs and cankles.

But knowing how long it took for us to get pregnant with Cael (almost a year) I figured it would be around June before we had any luck.  We compromised and agreed to the "not trying/not preventing" method of family planning that would surely buy me some time.

In the infamous words of Emeril Lagasse...


I got pregnant that night.  I won't share the details, but due to some absences and house guests before and after that compromise, I know it with virtual certainty.

And what a miracle Graham turned out to be... but it is at this exact moment each year that I kick myself for falling prey to Joel's lawyer-like skills of persuasion and our boys' too-close-for comfort birthdays.

Take today for example.  Today is October 5th, a mere four days before Cael's birthday and am I prepared?


Have I purchased any gifts for him?


Have I begun making his birthday cake?


We are still recovering financially from Graham's celebration and nutritionally from the overload of cake and ice cream, and the thought of launching into another buying and cooking extravaganza leaves me less than enthused.  But I am a mommy, and what is a mommy if not a glutten for punishment?

So I asked Cael for some ideas about his birthday.  We've had this discussion many times before, but this time I was curious what exactly he wanted on his cake other than "frosting" and what gifts he wanted aside from "toys".

"Cael, your birthday is on Sunday."

"On this day?!"

"No, on Sunday.  What would you like?"

"I want it to be my birthday!"

"No, I mean what presents would you like for your birthday?"

"Do I get presents on this day?"

"Stick with me here, Cael.  Your birthday is on Sunday, and we will open presents then.  What would you like those things to be?"

"I want a real steam engine.  A big, blue locomotive like Thomas.  We can put it in the driveway and you can use it to take me to preschool!"

"Wow, that would be neat.  But Mommy can't buy a real train.  Are there any toys you want?"

"Why you can't buy a real train?"

"Well, honey, they don't sell them like they sell cars or trucks or boats.  And even if they did, it would cost much more money than I have."

"Why you don't have more money?"

"Because I decided to stay home with you instead of working at another job.  And because Daddy is a teacher and they just don't pay teachers very much."

"Why they don't pay teachers much money?"

"I don't know, honey.  That's something a lot of people don't understand."

But wait just a minute.  How did we get here?  Wasn't I asking Cael about his birthday presents?  I grabbed a pen to make a list of gift ideas and instead started taking notes on his bizarre questions and inability to stay on task.

"Nevermind that, honey.  I want to know what gifts you want for your birthday."

"On this day?!"

"Ugh!  No, Cael... on Sunday."

"I want a big--"

"--What do you want other than a real train?"

"Umm, we could go to that place where they had those neat things with all of the people!"

I don't know what is worse.  The fact that my son used absolutely no descriptors to identify his idea, or the fact that I knew exactly what he meant.

"You want to go to the Children's Museum?"

"That could be fun.  I could find a present there.  They have those neat balls."

"Those are neat, but you can't take those... they belong to the museum."

"Why I can't have them?"

"They're not for sale.  If you took them, that would be stealing."

"If I stealed them, would the policeman come get me?"

"That's right.  If you steal something, you go to jail just like Curious George does in the yellow book."

"Would you bring me my birthday cake in jail?"

"No, you don't get cake in jail.  They don't let you have a birthday party when you're in jail."

"Do they have Thomas the Train in jail?"


And that's when Cael's eyes grew wide and I realized that I crushed my son's soul four days before his birthday.  Not the gift he was expecting, perhaps.

Better than 9 months in a federal prison.

Or is life without Thomas the Train even worth living?

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Leave your own "ism". Cael and Graham double-dog dare you.