While Antonio had no issues understanding the countdown, I had to explain to him several
hundred times that his birthday party would not coincide with his actual birth day. Might sound simple enough, but to a little one whose concept of time is measured in the length of his brother’s hockey practices and episodes of Thomas (thats right, everyone, I let my kids watch tv!), this is much easier said than done. As any newly minted 4 year old might, he shared his frustration with the time lag between these two events. So, with disappointment looming, I set out to fill his day with rightfully earned celebration — but the kind of milder, low-key celebration that would not simulate a second birthday party that would, inevitably, put me in the poor nut house.
Since the boys and I have been spending this week at our home in Connecticut, I began scouring for activities that they have yet to experience here. We are fortunate to have a summer home located in a place with such a long list of summer fun possibilities in addition to the beach. While the beach is just steps away from our home (and where we spend every single afternoon), I try to take the boys to do and see different things in the area. On Tino’s birthday morning we ventured to The Children’s Museum of Southeastern Connecticut, a place I had heard much about but had never actually been to. Located right on Main Street in Niantic, one of my favorite nearby seaside towns, the museum is packed full of discovery and exploratory fun for children ranging in age from toddlers through early elementary school age. I was incredibly impressed with the diversity of offerings for the kids, ranging from live robot demonstrations (it was “Robot Week” at the museum) to a real indoor bee hive. On the way home from the museum, I asked the boys what their favorite activity was and their response turned into a scrolling list of just about everything they had done.
|It should surprise no one that my Alejandro was drawn like a magnet to the one little piece of locomotive culture present in the museum. He has now requested a real train lantern from Santa Claus . . . which was delivered via post-it note this morning. Never too early to put your letters in, right?!
When we returned home from the Children’s Museum, we quickly changed into our beach gear and got the “Birfday Boy” to the beach. Antonio spent the rest of the afternoon doing all of his beach favorites; catching hermit crabs, looking for sea glass, “swimming” in his life vest, and counting every passing ferry boat. He was treated to ice cream from the ice cream man by his sweet friend Timmy, who recently celebrated a birthday of his own. Because Doug will not be able to join us until the weekend, we saved certain birthday activities and substituted with smaller, but equally joyous, versions. He Facetimed with his beloved Oma and Opa, and spoke on the phone with his Grammy and Grandpa. He was the sole selector of all TV shows watched that day and the setter of every meal menu. He ate potato chips with his breakfast and (approximately) 47 chicken nuggets for dinner. He was happy to tell anyone who would listen that he was now 4 years old, and smiled with delight when girlfriends of mine told him how much older he looked than just the day before.
As for me, I swallowed more than a few happy tears as I watched my Antonio blow out all four of his candles on top of his ginormous Cookie Monster chocolate cupcake. I soaked in every moment of his day. I reflected on the day of his birth and my very first sight of his pinkest of cheeks and chubbiest of hands. I remember introducing him to his big brother, who proceeded to call him “Bobby” (his 2-year old version of “baby”) for the first 10 months of his life. I struggled and refused to understand how it is that these 4 years have gone by as quickly as they have and that my baby is, indeed, no longer a baby.
I also smiled in awe of his little developing life; basking in the glory of his fierce spunk and spirit, his determination and grit, matched only by his affectionate and loving heart. I froze time in my mind and vowed to never forget how much, as a 4 year old, he loves mighty machines, hockey, animals, and babies. He still speaks with a lisp and has an accent that is more Bronx than Westchester. He still loves to snuggle and refuses to go to sleep unless I sing him our song. And as much as he loves to eat it, he still can’t pronounce the word sushi (shoo-shee), and still prefers to call Alejandro ‘Bruggah,’ instead of by his given name. He is competitive, tough, and usually surrounded by a cloud of dust a la Pig Pen from Peanuts. He is the spitting image of his mother, likes to say his prayer at meal time, and the ultimate reminder of all of God’s infinite blessings.
And while I realize that there is no other alternative and I must continue to watch my children grow older and be grateful for God’s gift of life, I confess to being more than a little sad each year as their birthdays roll around. My sweet mother has reminded me that, as their mother, I am entitled to these feelings so long as I don’t let them overwhelm me, thus preventing me from enjoying the gift of the present. With that in mind, I
Wir lieben dich, unser Tino-Schatz. Alles Gute zum Geburtstag!