My little one — my big kid — turned five this weekend.  It was a big birthday, full of anticipation and surprises, and one that I delighted in.  We started the week with a visit from Grandma and Grandpa, much loved, and there was much excitement as we played all day together (matchbox cars! outside! counting and a real! working! cash register!) and topped it off with a surprise trip to Rita’s and chocolate cake after dinner.

We spent the birthday as a family, starting with pancakes and a single present, then play, then a trip to school for pre-K orientation.  Widget did REALLY well, dropping into the group as if he had been there always, and playing with his friends from summer, friends from last school year, and friends from his two-year-old class that he remembers only fleetingly.  He will do well this year, and I am sure of that.

Lunch out was his choice, and he let Little Brother choose, because it was his turn.  Accordingly, we went out for a festive ‘Donalds, which, as Widget says, “Bear always chooses ‘Donalds.”  But that’s okay, and we had a great time.

After a nap and quiet time (punctuated by the periodic dropping of marbles), we opened the remaining presents and decided to splurge and go out for dinner too.  We were on our way to a favorite dinner when Widget stopped, turned to me, and said,

Mama, I’m five today.

Yes, dear you are.

So, Mama, is today the day we can go to Chuck E Cheese?

And suddenly I remembered winter days, stuck inside in the snow and ice, when the Sprout commercials flashed warm happiness of children playing loudly, promising “the new birthday at Chuck E Cheese!”  When we said, yes, that’s a birthday place, and when we promised that yes, when you turn five, we can go to Chuck E Cheese.  And then the asking stopped.

After that, he would mention it, in passing, contentedly, saying,

When I’m five, I can go to Chuck E Cheese for my birthday.

And so, we did.

It’s not our thing.  We don’t like the flashing lights, the consumerism, the waste.  We don’t like the frenzy, the money-centricity, the loud music, and the strobe lights.  We’re not fans of the giant rat.

But for Widget, our firstborn, our patient, understanding, empathetic child, who accepts the unacceptable, snuggles with a scarred and tired Mama, and teaches his little brother to be gentle, we went.

We had a good time.  On our terms.  Together, as a family.  We played air hockey and pinball and had our picture taken and rode the rides and climbed in the climbing gym.  And Widget happily danced in front of the pretend TV screen, taking turns with kids he’d just met, and telling brother all about it.

We left, exhausted but happy, and Widget looked up at me in the parking lot and said, Mama, I can’t wait until my sixth birthday to come back.

Such sweet innocence.  I doubt we’ll wait that long.

More birthday goodness tomorrow — and a rundown of our Sid the Science Kid birthday party!


11 Responses to Birthday

  1. Happy birthday to Widget! I love that he let Bear choose where to go to lunch and it sounds like your trip to Chuck E. Cheese was just delightful and what he wanted! I’m with you on not loving the consumerism, giant rat, money-centricity etc. but when something makes your child’s day, it is hard to say no.

  2. marty says:

    Sounds like a very good day. A very very good day.

  3. upsidebackwards says:

    Awwww, what a sweetheart he is. Letting little brother choose on your birthday because “it’s his turn”! This post made me misty-eyed. What wonderful parents that child must have 🙂

    • whymommy says:

      No, no — he’s a gift. How many children could really be a comfort to their sick mamas, after all? All of them? If so, they are amazing creatures.

  4. I’m glad everyone had a great time. I hate CEC, but my kids always want to go there on their birthdays!

  5. Susan K says:

    Ahh, but the pizza! I LOVE the rat’s pizza.

    • whymommy says:

      Really? All I could think of when I was eating was “Band Pizza. Band Pizza. Band Pizza.”

      And yes, Marty, I think YOU sold us the band pizza of which I speak. (Busted.) In what, 1987?

  6. amandalinn says:

    This post makes me happy.

    It’s a very wise boy who lets his brother choose when he knows what his brother will choose 😉

    I went to Chuck E’s a long time ago with a group with more “adults” than kids. A strange child literally attached himself to my leg. I had to go searching for his family, stumping along with a child hanging off my right calf.

  7. Kelley says:

    another post that has made me get something in my eye.


    Happy Birthday little man.

  8. Rebecca von Kerczek says:

    I also have a 4 yr old boy and 2 yr old girl. My son calls McDonald’s, “Uncle Donalds” which I think is cute. They all seem to shorten the name of McDonalds somehow. It is funny, my son brought up Chucke cheese the other day and I don’t know how he knew about it, but now he wants to go there too! See you at book club soon!

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