A solid plan (except, admittedly, for the going viral part). The Boy did his part by coming up with a great action-movie track, along with a couple of clever skit premises: Clone troopers take a coffee break and a bunch of minifigures were ordered to bring Darth Vader a trident but mistakenly brought back a pack of Trident gum. Punishment ensues. I suggested that at the end, all the minifigures could spring a surprise birthday party on The Boy’s chosen minifigure, and he added that the little guy could be so surprised that he (literally) falls to pieces. Pretty good, right?
It should be obvious what’s coming. The seven boys (plus Q) all liked the general movie-making idea, but it turned out to be impossible for them not to be eight-year-old boys. They’re all good, smart kids, but the dynamic of them together ran quickly toward chaos. When I mentioned one of my ideas to a kid just a few minutes in, he responded — like some stock character right out of a tween TV show — “BORing.” Okay, I said, let’s hear their ideas, which included:
- Everyone is fighting a war and then one guy has to pee, so they stop the whole war until he comes back
- China starts to take over the world with its coffee because its coffee is so good
- A cobbled-together LEGO creation one kid was calling “Wine Guy” runs around spraying everything with wine
- LEGO dancing with the stars where the stars come down from the sky and the minifigures dance with them*
Above all, they were each interested in making the others laugh. (I assume this is what most mid-list sitcom writers' rooms sound like.) I should have recognized earlier than I did that they were just enjoying each other’s company, trying to better each other in laughs and volume. Once I did finally let go of my idea of what they should be doing, I was able to appreciate the inspired mess.
Some things did go as planned. My lovely and talented wife captured the general theme of the day with an excellent LEGO and Star Wars inspired cake, with an impressive TIE fighter on top and minifigures from both sides of the force at attention. The fighter and figures stood on a cake base frosted in azure buttercream, which looked super futuristic and cool.**
|The force was definitely with my wife on this one|
Even these many years later, after he was thrown into us early, I’m still a little surprised that he has made it this far and in this wonderful way. I don’t think like this often, don’t count blessings or puzzle over them. I don’t read new studies of premature and low-weight birth, and I’ve forgotten the old ones. I don’t have to pretend that rocking my child while respecting cables and tubes is the most natural thing in the world. I had to look up the word ‘gavage’ to write this sentence. I don’t let his single-digit, gym-teacher-calculated BMI percentile nag. I don’t take mistakes or struggles as portents of things broken when he was most fragile. I just don’t. Don’t have to.
Instead, I get to marvel at how The Boy reflects the better parts of a person back, as charismatic people often do. He’s gotten tall — his head now just starting over his mother’s shoulder — has a solid baseball swing that he more often then not takes with a the right amount of seriousness. Has a temper and can be too hard on himself and quickly embarrassed. Has given us the luxury of merely worrying about the usual things, and not even that much about those.
Happy birthday, son. We love you and are proud of you.
*Okay, I actually thought that was a pretty good one.
**The Boy loved the color so much that he requested cupcakes for his class frosted in the same blue.