I’ve come to realize that birthdays are all about managing expectations (this includes adults and kids!). Surprises are always seem fun, but even with surprises you can fall short. Like the time we were so excited to give Hallie a trip to Disneyland (we were hopping in the car and driving straight there). We recorded her opening the tickets and she was kind and happy about it but she lacked the excitement we were hoping for. With further prodding, we learned that she didn’t know what Disneyland was and therefor didn’t know she should be excited. She was seven!
Kids are funny. Since then we’ve learned how to manage each kid’s expectations a little better and it can be a little bit of a dance. Bennett’s birthday was this weekend and we “danced”. The day before we walked through the whole day and the plan was laid out – he works best this way. Doughnuts for breakfast. Taco Bell for lunch taken to the school. Cookies for his classroom. Open presents after school and then a mother/son night at the school and dinner. Best laid plans.
We nailed the doughnuts. We nailed Taco Bell. (we couldn’t talk him into Chick fil a!) But his class was on the wall for lunch recess which meant he couldn’t play and he couldn’t buy a popsicle. We sat next to him on the wall with the rest of his classmates. Double bummer. His class treat was great but they failed to let us know they combined two whole classes for the day since they were short teachers – which we managed. We then found out the mother/son activity was being cancelled and he was devastated with just how poorly things were working out in his 8 year-old mind. How could all this happen on his birthday none the less?!?
The presents were perfectly curated for him and that was the redeeming aspect of the day, he got his very first brand new bike (not a hand me down from his brother) and life was good again. We made it to dinner at Red Robin, although he wasn’t pleased it was the whole family – he was hoping for it to be by himself. But we reminded him he gets to enjoy all the birthdays of his siblings – he wasn’t convinced that was worth it but he did give in.
The night ended with Hunter, Bennett and I riding our bikes, with Bennett on his new bike, to our local Dutch Brothers to get the birthday boy his drink of choice, an italian soda. As we rode back, Bennett marveled at the day, “This is the best day ever!”
In that moment, he was the happiest kid alive and he felt so loved. Mission accomplished. It was a dicey there for a little bit as he has high expectations and has a hard time dealing with changes in plans – which seemed to be around every corner – but we made it. His birthday ended with a bang.
Happy Birthday Mr. B!