Jesse turned 5 this weekend!
It was the first-ever birthday that Jesse has officially celebrated, which made it incredibly awesome for him, and for Jason and me. To see the delight on his face as his birthday was talked about and made a big deal of was wonderful. He knows he is loved, that he is special and important, and it is amazing to see the way he blossoms under the warmth of that knowledge! He literally doesn't stop grinning! (or talking!)
I did the whole "calendar countdown" with him (well, we started on Wednesday to keep myself sane....keep reading) to give him an idea of what to anticipate. From what we told him, all Jesse could really figure out was that he was going to a place called Chuck E. Cheese where he would get "lots of coins to play lots of fun games that he would like a lot." Jesse knows all about the magical property of coins courtesy of gumball machines, so I figured I could latch on to that particular affinity and exploit it to get him excited about his special event.
I need to retrace my steps a minute here and explain something that I have recently come to learn the hard way. When you have a kiddo who is anticipating an important event that he has never experienced before (Trick-or-Treat, Christmas or an upcoming birthday for instance), you quickly learn to keep it simple when detailing what's going to happen at said event. Why? Because it is inevitable that whatever you've told him initially will -- I guarantee you -- quickly be captured in the child's photographic memory word for word.
In fact, as a parent it may be best to scratch it all down on paper, edit it, pare it down, and then memorize it right then and there, because you will definitely have it verbatim long before the event is on the horizon (unless you wait until, say, the Wednesday right before the event). And you can be assured that any permutation, deviation or omission, however minor, of any of the slated events will be instantaneously corrected.
So when -- in one of my various recitations of Jesse's birthday events -- I mentioned that Jesse would get coins to play the games at Chuck E. Cheese, he quickly interjected his correction: "LOTS of coins, Mama!" because that's what I originally said. No one's gonna pull a fast one on this kid, I tell you.
I described Chuck E. Cheese to him. I told him there were lots of games to play, including a Bob the Builder ride and that it was going to be a lot of fun. It was obvious he had no idea what was going to happen at this mysterious entity known as Chuck E. Cheese, but he was pretty sure it was going to be a blast, so he knew enough to be excited despite his curiosity about the unknown.
He was quite overwhelmed when we got there: all the flashing lights and bright colors and game after game after game. How to choose? Where to start? But he got into the swing of things, especially when he discovered the Monster Truck, something he's been quite enamored with lately thanks to Sanford Goodall Library's children's video selection.
The Monster Truck ride was definitely Jesse's favorite part of Chuck E. Cheese. He was fascinated with how it was getting off the ground and rocking back and forth. He spent a good chunk of the two hours we were there just feeding coins into the machine.
It was fun watching little five-year-old fingers pushing coin after coin into the slot, a huge grin on his face. One coin, then another, then another. Those little shiny coins just kept right on coming.
Hey, I keep my promises.