Unexpected surprises

009Tomorrow, my little boy (well, the biggest one) turns 3.  I know it’s a cliche, but I have no idea where the time has gone.  (Although, at the same time, it seems hard to believe that 3 years ago I didn’t yet have any kids.  Once you have them, you feel like you’ve always had them.)

Today, to celebrate, we took him to the zoo, and let him have free rein.  (Pretty much:  he wanted to go in with the elephants, and that’s where I drew the line.)  He got to pick which animals he wanted to see, where we went, how long we stayed.  We even let him pick out a stuffed animal from the gift shop.  (He chose a snake.  He was going for the panda and changed his mind at the last second.  The snake is pretty cool.)  Some of our friends joined us, to help us celebrate, and Benjamin really loved that.

012We had a great time, and then we stayed too long, everyone got hot, tired and cranky and we left in the midst of tears, naps, frustration and irritability.  That seems to be how these things happen.  I know from experience, though, that the ending won’t ruin his experience or memory of the day.  I know he had a great time.  He got to run around, see stuff, climb on things, eat ice cream and generally do pretty much whatever he wanted for hours and hours.  We saw giraffes, elephants, a gibbon, flamingos, a lion, penguins, sea lions, a polar bear, and we even had an albino peacock wander right past where we were having lunch.  (I have no idea if it was supposed to be loose, but there it was, just wandering through.)  Good times.

046After coming home and recuperating for a few hours, Benjamin was playing ball with Bailey.  For Benjamin, the purpose of this game is to hide the baseball where it will be the hardest for Bailey to acquire it and then to run away and giggle while Bailey gets it anyway.  To be clever, he decided to hide the ball in our storage closet (the only closet in our whole apartment) which is generally closed and off limits (although not strictly verboten, it’s more that it’s relatively uninteresting and out of the way).  Problem:  that’s where the (as yet unwrapped) birthday presents were hidden.

“Daddy, Daddy, Dad, Dad, Dad!  Come see!  Look what I found!  I found a bike!”  Pause.  “Is it my birthday present?  Is it mine?”

050No, he wasn’t supposed to get it until tomorrow, but what are you going to say?  His delight and excitement certainly wasn’t diminished by getting it today (in fact, it may have been enhanced by the complete surprise).  He is thrilled, if a little uncertain about how best to tackle this new challenge.  (Another gift, which he didn’t find, is the helmet which goes WITH the bike, so we took it rather easy today.)  His sweet excitement was wonderful to witness.  That is a special kind of happiness reserved for small children on their birthdays and on Christmas morning, and we get to experience it again by making it happen for him.

He’s an awesome kid.  I hope he’s having an awesome birthday.

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