Week In My Life: Anything but an ordinary Monday

I’m blogging every day this week for the Week In My Life link-up hosted by Kathryn at Team Whitaker.

There are Mondays. Then there are Mondays when your son is turning 7. Our day starts bright and early with our boys crawling into bed, one on each side of us.

That lasts about three minutes. Then everyone—or at least the new 7-year-old—wants to get up and start the celebration.

“I want to open my presents,” Leo announces.

“Maybe just one or two?” his father says.

But you know what they say: you can’t stop a moving train or an excited birthday boy.

Moments later everything is unwrapped.

And the party is well underway—or as much of a party as you can have in the brief time before leaving for school.

Our boys enjoy their daily chicken noodle soup (with ice to cool it off) for breakfast and I overhear the “Well, it is my birthday” mantra a few times.

Hmm. That might not go over well, but I’m not worried. Daniel is no pushover. He needs just a little extra attention from me. It can be hard to be the brother of the birthday boy. So we play briefly with a butterfly net and his stuffed animals.

I give Leo seven birthday kisses and one to grow on. Daniel gets kisses too, but they are not birthday kisses. Later they get special hugs from Baba.

After breakfast, while the boys are playing with Leo’s gifts, I pack Leo’s snack in a new Pokemon container he hasn’t seen yet. This birthday is all about Pokemon.

John takes Daniel to school so Leo and I can stop to get his birthday treat for his friends. He’s not a fan of most baked goods, but he likes munchkins. We order 25 chocolate and 25 honey glazed—and a coffee for me. Then we’re off to school, where he proudly carries the box of donuts inside. I can see his classmates hurrying to greet him—and not just because he has donuts.

Then I’m off to work, where I get to proof our magazine and do many other projects that have nothing to do with Leo’s birthday or donuts or Pokemon.

In the back of my mind I am remembering that I am throwing a birthday party for Leo this weekend. He is so excited. So am I, but I am also nervous about getting everything ready, especially now that I realize we are having at least a dozen of his friends.

Is there any point in cleaning the house when we still have days before the party? And doesn’t it look clean to you?

When I pick Leo up from school—a little late because of traffic—we head to the store to buy the gift his aunt and uncle are giving him. They just gave birth to a baby girl, so they get bonus points for even remembering that he has a birthday. Of course, they were married on his fifth birthday, so it might be hard for them to forget. Either way, Leo is thrilled to pick out his very own Pokemon cards at the store.

Are you sensing that this birthday has a theme?

We look for leftover Halloween candy for our Pokemon piñata, and all we see is Christmas candy. I feel more strongly than Leo does that that isn’t an option.

When we go to pick up Daniel from preschool, Leo runs to the door.

Then he bounces through the halls.

Back at home we wait for Leo’s birthday dinner to be delivered. We almost always celebrate family occasions with Chinese food, and tonight it’s Leo’s choice.

One day I am going to say, “You can pick any dinner you’d like for your birthday,” and one of the children will say, “I’d like a homemade chicken pot pie.” But it has never happened yet, and we all love Chinese food. Who doesn’t?

After Grace, we pray briefly for Leo. And, of course, we pray for all those in China who love our growing boy.

In between the series of birthday calls from the grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, we manage to slip in the birthday song and we cut the chocolate-chocolate cake Leo requested. It’s a new recipe, and instead of frosting, I was supposed to drop chocolate chips on top of the hot cake and let them melt.

The boys and I had a great time spreading them over the cake last night. But the frosting set hard, like a candy bar, and it’s not as appealing today.

Of course, our boys are just eating the M&Ms off the top, so the cake might as well be Styrofoam—and John seems to think Styrofoam might be almost as tasty.

And Leo has made his wish, after much thought and even more secrecy, so the cake is irrelevant.

Before we can eat it, Leo has us go around the table and guess which Pokemon’s silhouette is on the cake. I made the cake and John knows who it is, too, but we each dutifully guess a different character. Leo, of course, gets it right. Do you know who it is?

Toward the end of the evening Daniel marches into the kitchen and says, “I’m selling all my money to the poor, except the dollars.” It’s a beautiful gesture, even though I believe he means “giving” instead of “selling.”

After much Pokemon play—even though I’m not sure what the game is or how it works, and it seems to involve more math than I can do easily—John reads Happy Birthday to You by Dr. Seuss to the boys and they’re off to bed.

Then they don’t fall asleep for more than an hour. They are playing, even though they are in separate beds, and their game seems to involve their flashlight key chains, stuffed animals sailing through the air between the beds, and raucous laughter.

I try to tell myself this has nothing to do with the orange soda I let them have since it was a “special day.”

Eventually Leo falls asleep and Daniel lies in there singing the Pokemon theme song over and over and over and over again.

“It’s not always black and white, but your heart always knows what’s right,” he sings. “It’s not about win or lose. It’s the path you choose. Let the journey begin. Pokemon!”

Profound thoughts for our 4-year-old non-birthday-boy. And then he’s off to sleep, too.

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Catholic Review

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.