There is only one success--to be able to spend your life in your own way.-Christopher Morley
The Good Boy Turns Nine
Posted April 22, 2010
It's another amazingly beautiful day in Southern California and I'm driving away from the children's school at about 7:45am. Just me and the Good Boy. It's a big day for him -- he's now nine years old!
We just dropped off the Sweet Sweetheart, backpack in tow, and as the birthday boy, he gets the day off to celebrate and be adored. By lunch time we'll be back at the school to pick up his sister, but for right now he's the Birthday King and he reigns supreme.
His Birthday Highness stretches in the backseat of my SUV and smiles with great satisfaction. He brought a new Lego toy with him for the ride, and he's holding it proudly. At his request, his favorite radio station is on, and he glances out the window and watches his classmates in the school yard. I can see his excitement level rising as the thought of being whisked away to have fun on a school day crosses his mind. I pick up speed to exit the school grounds.
The adventure begins.
We first head to my office and I quickly attend to business matters, while the Good Boy promptly sits in an area he calls his office and logs onto one of his favorite Websites to play. He positions his new toy on the desk, right next to him, and looks very pleased. For him, being at work with me is great fun, and he often asks to visit. He knows the people who work here, he knows where the water bottles, soda, candy jar, and snacks are located, and he plans to work here when he's finished with school.
Since the age of five, the Good Boy's career plans consisted of him replacing me and his sister replacing my wife at our company. Either that, or he will be a football player or diver, depending on how things work out.
His sister, the Sweet Sweetheart, for her part, might prefer to be a veterinarian... Or maybe just a vegetarian. We'll see...
Not wanting to spend too much time at work on the Good Boy's birthday, I prioritize my tasks, figure out what can be pushed off for tomorrow, tie up some loose ends, hand off some paperwork to our administrators, and head out the door.
As we near the elevator, which is flanked by mirrors, the Good Boy remarks that the shirt he's wearing makes him looks older. I assure him that he definitely does appear to be older than he did yesterday when he was still eight, and he nods in agreement.
"Abba, I love you," he says, as I place my hand on his shoulder.
I tell him that I love him, too, more than anything in the world.
We drive back home, where Beautiful Eema greets us. She's all set to join us in our birthday adventures, and she looks particularly adorable today. The Good Boy hugs and kisses her, and before leaving the house, he asks for a few more minutes to play with his new toys.
"Of course," we say. "Today's your day to do anything you'd like. You're the birthday boy!"
Ahh... To feel like a nine year-old birthday boy again, playing with brand new toys. Amazing.
So what does the Good Boy want to do on his birthday? Open up a bank account with the ten dollars he received as a gift from his cousins and the twenty dollar bill he found a few days ago in a playground in Thousand Oaks. We drive to the bank and add another ten, so he can match his sister's considerable bank holdings of forty dollars. He fills out a deposit slip, and in a few minutes, the Good Boy has the first financial asset of which he's aware. He's elated.
Next, we drive to Target, where he purchases yet another Lego toy for eight dollars, which he's been eyeing for the past few months, and by then it's time to pick up the Sweet Sweetheart from school.
The school's policy does not include taking time off for anything but illness, and so Beautiful Eema decides to hide safely in the car while I, the brazen scofflaw, head into the reception area to call the Sweet Sweetheart out of school for the rest of the day.
As I wait for her to arrive, much to my chagrin, the Head of School suddenly appears. We're face to face. An image of an old Western movie with the sheriff facing off against the outlaw flashes through my mind.
Upon seeing me standing there, the Head of School looks rather puzzled and tries to guess why I am there. He knows that it is the Good Boy's Birthday somehow, and asks me if I am there to take him out of school. I shake my head and am forced to admit that I am here for the Sweet Sweetheart.
It becomes obvious that I'm blatantly disregarding the school's policy, and the Head of School looks downward and frowns. I can't believe my bad luck to be busted, and I have to laugh at the thought of being "busted" altogether in a school setting at this point in my life. I have flashbacks from my own school days...
As it turns out, the Head of School is the same age as I, basically from the same background, and is a particularly nice guy.
"Oh..." he says, and leaves it at that. He's cool. I know I'm good to go.
The Sweet Sweetheart emerges from behind the counter, and I whisk her away quickly. I grin as I drive away with the entire family. My happy expression is part relief, part gratitude to the Head of School, and part happiness that we are headed out on this glorious afternoon to celebrate the Good Boy's Birthday all together.
When I mention my chance meeting with the Head of School, Beautiful Eema is even happier than she originally thought to have stayed in the car. Not only is she better looking than I, she's also apparently much smarter.
In the long run, though, whatever school lessons that were learned that afternoon will blend seemlessly into the large mush of years of education, while the pleasant memory of getting to skip school on one's birthday will last.
We ask the Good Boy what he would most like to do next, and after reviewing all the possibilities he comes to a final decision: Eat burgers at his favorite burger joint, then go out for dessert, then head home to play with his new toys. Nice and simple.
Over the years, I've learned that children can't necessarily be second-guessed entirely. Sure, I know what my children like, what they enjoy, etc., but at any given moment in time they may very well have a yen for something that I wouldn't necessarily predict. So, onward we go for birthday burgers.
I order a veggie burger on whole wheat, no cheese, no mayo. I'll add lettuce, pickles, peppers, and barbecue sauce later. Beautiful Eema and the Sweet Sweetheart order their grilled salmon on whole wheat buns, and the Good Boy enjoys two yummy well-done sliders, adds pickles and chows down with great gusto. Today, he is the star, and he grins from ear to ear with that realization.
Later, the Good Boy gets to play with his new toys. He sets up the Lego characters known as Bionicles, which basically resemble something of an armor-clad reptilian robotic warrior. Still with me? In a Miss America contest, they would not win first or second prize, that's for sure. But in the Good Boy's eyes, they are something to be cherished and the stuff that dreams are made of. I'll go with that...
Soon enough evening approaches, and the Good Boy senses that he is in the final phase of his Big Day. Beautiful Eema is reading a bedtime story to the Sweet Sweetheart about a mother-daugher reading club. I am in the Good Boy's bedroom, and he's in pajamas, teeth brushed, as he suddenly turns pensive.
"Abba, I can't believe my birthday is almost over. I looked forward to it for such a long time," he says.
"I know exactly what you mean. Was it a good one?"
"Yes, it was excellent," he answers. "But I don't want it to be over yet. I want it to last longer."
"Me too," I say.
At nine, the Good Boy can already experience the passage of time like sand running out from between his small fingers. I can see it in his expression. He wants to hold on to the moment, feel special, and relish the time. He seems to sense that special moments like this are great but, unfortunately, fleeting.
I also feel a tinge of sadness at the end of the day. Like all fathers who love their children, I want the Good Boy to have his moment in the sun last as long as possible. But that's exactly it -- there is only a limited amount of time before things change.
I, too, realize that my son's much anticipated ninth birthday is drawing to an end, and I hug him and kiss the top of his head. He curls up with me and we spend a moment just like that. No words are needed. I know that just as the birthday has almost passed, so too, is the stage in our lives when we can be like this.
The time that I can lift the Good Boy and swing him in the air to give him the feeling of being an airplane is running out. He's getting to be a big boy, one of the tallest in his class. Time is ticking, and I know the importance of enjoying it while we still can.
"You know what I think? We'll make your birthday last at least until the end of the week, so you are still the birthday boy. Then, the following Sunday is your birthday party for the boys in your class, and then we'll go together and you'll use your gift cards at the store. That way your birthday can last almost a month."
The Good Boy's birthday party this year consists of taking the boys in his class (it's a small class) to indoor skydiving at Universal City Walk. He can't wait...
The Good Boy lights up. "Alrrright!!!" He literally jumps up and down as the thought fills his mind with sheer joy.
"I love you, Abba."
"I love you too. The most in the world," I say.
Beautiful Eema enters the Good Boy's room, ready to read him a bedtime story. He gives her a great big hug and several kisses on her cheek. He absolutely adores her.
He gets into bed and pulls the cover over himself, preparing to listen to the story.
"Abba, can you stay for my story?" he asks.
"Would love to," I say, and sit next to Beautiful Eema.
The Good Boy smiles looks like he's in seventh heaven. Or maybe, on cloud nine.
About Double Triangle
Double Triangle is my personal blog and is mostly about family life in the Los Angeles area. It also serves to record some of my thoughts in a format that can be easily accessed by my family and friends, as well as by anyone else who cares to read it.
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