Skippy’s Birthday Bash Was An Amazing Day


Skippy turned four last Thursday, and I have no doubt that it was the very best day of his life, at least so far. I was privileged enough to witness it from start to finish, and it became one of the very best days of my life, too — at least, so far.

It began with the sudden realization, upon waking, that he was finally, finally four years old. He had been marking the days off on the calendar for weeks and finally reached the red letter day. Now he was as old as everyone else in his preschool class, no longer the “baby.”
When he came downstairs for breakfast, there was a mountain of presents on the dining room table, mostly because presents for four-year-olds require gigantic packing boxes. They just do. There was a banner screaming “Happy Birthday!” and a special ceramic “Happy Birthday” plate, patiently awaiting the arrival of cake. Skippy was dancing on tiptoe.

“You cannot open them until I get home from work, but you can count them,” his mother said. “No touching, either.”

“One, two, free, four, five, icks, evvens, eight!” (The child puts the “s” at the end of all s-words, don’t ask me why.) Then, the astounding discovery of a box at the front door with his name on it. “Nine!”

When I got there later, he was practically foaming at the mouth as he showed them off. For the next two hours, his little sister and I were repeatedly cautioned, “Nobody touches!”

At 11 a.m., I packed the kids into the car, and we drove over to Target with the express purpose of looking at every toy in there and choosing a few. Surprisingly, Skippy went straight to the swim aisle, threw a pair of goggles and two pairs of swim shoes into the cart (one pair for his sister), and he was done. Evidently, he’d been lusting after those accessories for a long time. Who knew?
We stopped at a restaurant with a play place for lunch, and he noticed a boy about his age exiting the bathroom. “I’m bigger than him,” he told me, full of confidence and pride. As a special treat, I bought both him and his sister a small vanilla shake, something they never get — and we evidently entered Nirvana.
At long last, mommy came home from work and made his favorite dinner — chicken tenders, macaroni and cheese, corn on the cob and cupcakes. Skippy wolfed down his food and then, “Time to open presents!”

And what a time it was. I can honestly say I have never witnessed such trembling anticipation, sheer joy and unbridled delight for such an extended period of time. Each gift was enthusiastically chosen, happily shaken, viciously torn open, hysterically exclaimed over, immediately loved and immediately used. Gift-givers who were in the room were sincerely thanked (without parental prompting) and lavished with strong hugs and slobbery kisses. When he got to my mother’s traditional gift (four dollars for four years), Skippy looked at the card, saw the bills and shouted, “Money! I wanted money!”

The entire day was a Hallmark card, a made-for-TV movie, a birthday by which all other birthdays may be judged.

And they will.

His sister turns two in a month.