This morning, Benjamin and I set out to do some gift shoping for Liam’s birthday (which is Monday, but we’re celebrating tomorrow). We’ve already gotten him a book and a replacement for another toy that he has that’s worn out (which was a hand-me-down from Benjamin, who got it as a hand-me-down from his Aunt Margaret — so Liam’s simply getting a new incarnation of it). I wanted to get him a couple of fun, new things for his birthday, too.
We left the house intending to go to the big mall, which is towards the outer parts of Vienna. As we got to the courtyard of our building, we ran into one of our neighbors, and when we told her about our plans, she instead pointed us towards a big toy store which was much closer to our house. I had no idea it was there!
We found the toy store — it is FANTASTIC. I’m disappointed that we ever trekked out to the mall when this place is so close. Benjamin and I looked all through the store for toys for Liam’s birthday. Every 30 seconds or so, Benjamin would stop, point, and gasp, “Oh my gosh!” at some toy he had just seen. They had everything: books, blocks, dolls, trucks, cars, games, arts & crafts supplies, bikes, stuffed animals. The store was four floors of toy shopping fun.
Benjamin was such a great helper. He helped me pick out things for Liam (and suggested many things which, although not age appropriate for Liam, would have made lovely gifts for a 3 year old I know). He was so thoughtful and kind when he was choosing things — he really thought about what Liam would enjoy. I had an idea of one thing to get for Liam, but Benjamin was adamant about another toy — we went with his choice. He was so excited about the idea of Liam playing with his new toys and so excited that it’s going to be his birthday.
After we had chosen two gifts for Liam, we went downstairs to the balloon section. I was going to select a few “1st birthday” balloons, but Benjamin had his heart set on a frog and a pirate ship that he found — really cool ones. He really wanted them for Liam. So, we went with those. We purchased everything and opted to walk the 20 minutes home so we didn’t have to deal with the balloons on the train. (I was having visions of us getting on the train and the balloons getting stuck on the opposite side of the door — birthday balloon carnage!)
The weather for our walk home was perfect: sunny, cool and beautiful. Benjamin and I talked about the things we saw along the way, and he talked about how excited he was so give Liam his presents. I tried to impress upon him the idea that these things should be surprises (the thought is rather lost on him). It was a perfect morning. I was so impressed with how kind, well behaved and sweet Benjamin had been, and I, too, was looking forward to presenting Liam with his gifts and balloons.
And then, at the end of our block, Mommy blew it. I shifted my grip on the bag of toys and I must have let go of the balloons. I jumped in time to grab the frog, but I wasn’t able to catch the pirate ship. We stood on the sidewalk and watched, helplessly, as it drifted up and up, past the buildings and into the sky.
Benjamin was devastated. He sobbed, he screamed, he shook. I felt like doing the same thing, but all I could do was to hug him and tell him I was sorry. Mommy messed up. Mommy made a mistake. I didn’t mean to. It was an accident. I feel terrible.
Instead of arriving triumphantly home with our packages, we were disappointed and sad. After getting home and calming Benjamin down, I left the boys with Dan and went back to the store to try to find another one — but of course, it had been the last one. I know Liam doesn’t care — he never knew there was a pirate ship balloon, and he’s thrilled with the frog. But Benjamin is so sad. He was so excited to give it to Liam, and he keeps telling me he’s worried about the balloon — he wants to know what will happen to it now. All through the day, he’s had bouts of crying about it.
My sweet boys. I love them so much. Benjamin’s sweet enthusiasm this morning was wonderful to experience. His sadness and disappointment are awful. Liam is so excited to have his frog balloon, and I know that he’ll love his presents — most of all the ones that Benjamin chose for him with so much love. Best of all for his birthday, though, Liam has a sweet and wonderful brother who loves him. We are all so lucky.