Every morning, sometimes as early as 5 a.m., I am awakened by a small oval face with bright blue eyes and a shock of orange hair, button nose invariably pressed a mere half-inch from my own face, and the words:
'Mama. Today is MY BIRTHDAY?!' (It gets louder towards the end, like that.)
I look at him, eyes half-mast, and say, 'Sorry kiddo, not today.'
'Why not?' he must ask, even though he asked this same thing yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that, too. I'm beginning to think he doesn't really listen to my answer. This can only mean one thing. I should try a new approach.
'Because of the purple elephants.'
He blinks. 'PURPLE elephants?'
'Yeah, they hate your birthday so they keep rescheduling it.'
'What?' This is unexpected, I can tell.
'Pretty soon it'll be bumped all the way to Christmas, and you'll get gypped out of gifts for the rest of your life, just like your poor Grandpa.'
He thinks about this for a minute, and then says, stoically, 'My birthday is October 17.' He does not yet end his dates with a th.
'Right. So, tell me your months. January ...'
'January, Feb-uary, Motch, Abril, May, Joon, Jooly, August, 'eptember, October 17.' He always ends the calendar year with his birthday, because what is the point of finishing out a year once your birthday is over? I mean, really.
'November, December.' Turkey, It's A Wonderful Life. Two perfectly good points right there, if you ask me.
'Good. And right now it is still August. So ...'
'So it's MY birthday?!'
'Yeah, no. You have to get through September first.' Somehow, I am explaining this wrong.
'Oh.' He looks vaguely disappointed.
'And how old will you be on your birthday?'
'Not five.' This, if nothing else, has been well established.
'Exactly. And what comes after five?'
'Good talk.' I stand up, start moving towards the coffee pot, and he follows me, expectantly. 'Do you want to tell me what you want for your birthday?' Let's just cut to the chase, this is exactly what he wants.
'A Spiderman outfit, and Legos, and cupcakes with pirates on them, and cake, and a castle, and a boat, and a pirate, and a pond.' He no longer says 'Toy castle, toy boat, toy pirate' like he used to, which either means he's forgotten to mention it, or he's decided he wants the real thing now. Forget Playmobile, that stuff is plastic.
'A pond?' Really?
'For the boat.'
'I see.' This is too much before coffee. No one should ever discuss buying a body of water this early in the morning.
Or a pirate.
He's moved on anyway. He's brought me his wish list. He found a magazine that had all the Playmobile sets in it, cut out his favorite ones, and glued them to a sheet of paper in organized rows. 'I want that one, and that one, and that one, and that one, and that one, and that one -'
I have some coffee, and he continues. And continues. Finally he is done, and I must say something before he begins all over again at the top of the page. 'WOW! And what do you want to be, when you grow up?' It all comes tumbling out, even though I am of the firm belief that this is among The Stupidest Things Adults Ask Small Children. What do we expect them to say, really? THE COOKIE MONSTER!
He looks at me for a minute, as if trying to decide, and then says, 'A tiny one Isaac, like Peter Pan.'
And I grin at him, because this is the best answer of all the answers, and think I will buy him that pond, after all.
Or maybe a plastic pool.