25 June 2013

Choose Your Own Adventure

There are patterns that emerge when raising one’s children. Routines that get established and adhered to with a bizarre fierceness. In fact, after watching him arrange things just so last night on his shelf before going to bed, I called the Doozer “Particular Pete” for his insistence on making the world around him conform to his very specific desires. He was not a fan of the name.

But then there are surprises. Things that don’t go the way you expect them to. Just when you think you’ve got your kid figured out, they go and throw you a curveball. And so it was that our very own Particular Pete, who has ideas and opinions about everything that goes on in his world and around our house, told us he wanted to be surprised by his upcoming fifth birthday party.

(Our kid is five. This in itself is a surprise. The wife and I cannot quite figure out how this has happened. But I digress.)

We’d been talking about what kind of party he might want off and on for several weeks, maybe even months. And then all of a sudden he informed us that he didn’t want to know what it would be. Up until this point, he hasn’t picked out a theme for any his parties, they’ve all been surprises. And so he wants to stick with that tradition (for now).

For a kid who insists on picking out his own clothes—whether they actually match or not—and who is completely at ease dictating orders to his parents about how pretty much everything and anything should be done, this was quite a surprising turn. Not to mention, something of a challenge. I mean, we were just given carte blanche to design a birthday party that he will enjoy.

I’m thinking it might be a test. He wants to see how well we know him, how closely we’ve been paying attention. To suss out if we really know—and truly care about—what he likes.

So, these are a few of his favorite things:

Elvis Costello
Smoked gouda
Cooking pretend meals in a toy kitchen
Running in flip-flops
Reading lessons
Hugging his brother
Complaining about his brother
Milk drinking contests
Card games
The reptile house at the zoo
Vegetable gardening
Watching ants
Asking long streams of questions
Angry Birds
Brother baths

This is a lot of responsibility. There’s a lot of pressure to get this right. Like I said, it kinda feels like he’s testing us. So, how do we incorporate these elements into a fantastic shindig? Let’s see. We serve milk and gouda and vegetables from the garden. Instead of games, we watch ants. And birds. He performs a harmonica solo to “Pump It Up.” Then we let some snakes loose in the house. Ta-da.

Best fifth birthday party ever.

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