Monday, June 06, 2011


The Boy turned eight today.  All the schedules involved made it hard to celebrate the day dead on, so we flipped things around from Q's order of business.  We'll have his version of our new birthday tradition next weekend — dinner at The Ninja restaurant in Tribeca — and we started the festivities with his party this past weekend.  The Boy remains taken with LEGOs, and he’s gotten into making movies, so we together decided to have a LEGO movie-making party.  The idea was to have 7-9 kids (including Q) bring a favorite LEGO minifigure to star in a movie of their own.  We would come up with a few general story ideas and leave room for the kids to riff a little on their own.  Stop motion takes too much time and special attention to pull off in the window we had, so we talked ourselves into being happy with seeing hands (and whatever) in the frame as the action unfolded.  We’d do most of the filming in the good light and weather of our building’s roof deck, which, with its bushes and trees and rocks, could provide jungles and mountains as backdrops for their imaginations.  I would then stitch whatever bits end up working into a skit-show feature.  I even worked up my post-production skills in case we wanted to add in some laser-blaster effects and/or explosions.  And since The Boy has been poking decently around with GarageBand (a fantastic music-making application for Apple devices), I suggested that he make some music for the opening or closing credits.  We’d post the final result to Facebook and Vimeo and YouTube and then (who knows?) go viral-ish.

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*
Whenever I tried to steer them toward making any sort of short, even with one of their non-boring ides, they wanted to toss in everything at once.

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.


RB said...


teahouse said...

Happy birthday to your boy! And another home run with that beautiful cake..your wife is so talented, she is.

News football said...

o god ....HAPPY BIRTHDAY both