All good things must eventually come to an end (Unless people keep passing Starbucks gift cards your way, and then chai lattes could go on forever, but really? Realistically that only happens in December, when all of the children in my PE classes hand me $5 cards for a teacher’s gift, because they’ve seen me holding a white cup with a mermaid on it EVERY! SINGLE! TIME! they come to class.), so Birthday Fest ’13 has wrapped itself up.
Or worn itself out.
Whatever the case may be.
I’m pretty certain that the boy will forever look upon his thirteenth birthday and remember it as a time of sweet perfection.
On Thursday, he woke up, grinning from ear to ear, because… well… HE WAS FINALLY A TEENAGER. And being thirteen meant he was inching closer and closer to the much-coveted driver’s license.
And then this happened:
That would be a T-shirt from Keith and Carrie. I believe Carrie’s exact words last week were, “We are sending the boy a gift. You’ll hate it, but we really want to be his very favorite people, and THIS PRESENT is going to rocket us to the top!”
Yes. Yes, it did. Now he has a costume to wear when he stays up way too late, talking about the greatest mysteries of the world (Big Foot, the giant squid, the megladon shark, aliens with glowing eyes…) late into the night with Keith and Hubs, while his mama and Carrie talk about IMPORTANT topics (color choices for pedicures, new lighting fixtures for dining rooms, sales at Gymboree and Ralph Lauren).
There were other presents to be opened, too. Mam and Pa bought the boy new golf shoes, which complemented the new club that Hubs and I gave him.
(Speaking of clubs? Folks always say HOCKEY IS SO EXPENSIVE! MY KIDS ARE FINANCIALLY CRIPPLING ME WITH HOCKEY!, but listen. Golf clubs must be filled with the glitter off of a unicorn’s horn and polished with fairy tears. I can’t figure out any other reason for the cost of them.)
Or did we?
*insert mischievous grin right here*
If there’s one thing the boy loves as much as golfing, it’s shooting his buddies with his air soft guns. And? Did you hear? Well, he got brand new guns for his birthday gift, and Hubs and I knew these were coming.
So… I made a secret phone call to the boy’s friend, Patrick. Patrick lives out of town, on a chunk of property that is covered in trees and brush and bushes and boulders and ponds and tall weeds, and LOOK! It’s a boy’s Promised Land! Patrick offered to host a little surprise party for the boy, which would involve a batch of the boy’s closest buddies hopping up and down (in a manly fashion, of course) to yell out, “Surprise!” And then they’d immediately break into teams and shoot the ever-lovin’ snot out of each other.
Since I’m not well-schooled in the area of air soft wars (But ask me about back-to-school sales at Ralph Lauren! Ask me about chevron-striped rugs for your living room!), I pretty much said, “Um, Patrick? How about I handle the food and the invitations, and YOU take care of the war.”
Patrick acted as though I’d handed him a seventeen-pound golden nugget. He became the party planner of the century, y’all, and I couldn’t have pulled the event off without him taking charge. He mapped out a game plan. He recruited Enzo’s help and they made flags for teams. He secured worn-out tires to use as bunkers. He told his dad that he couldn’t possibly stack the giant spread of chopped wood BEFORE THE PARTY, because they needed it FOR THE PARTY.
All I had to do was buy some hot dogs and some chips and yell out, “Hey, boys! Who wants to join a secret air soft war?”
And then Hubs and I took the boy to Patrick’s house on Thursday night, because… well… Patrick had “a little something” for the boy on the back patio. The boy thought we were going out to dinner. We were. I asked him what he wanted for dinner. He wanted a fifteen-ounce grilled steak and spicy gumbo. I asked him how he felt about hot dogs. He said he liked hot dogs, but he didn’t think they were the best choice for a birthday dinner. I told him, “Just walk behind Patrick’s house there, before we go eat dinner. He has something for you on the patio.”
Boys do not give any thought to HIS MAMA MIGHT WANT TO TAKE PHOTOS OF THIS, because… well… TESTOSTERONE. It just doesn’t think the way estrogen does. I was hot on the heels of the boy, with my camera at the ready, but I missed a shot of the boys jumping out and surprising my son.
And just point-four seconds after the big party reveal, everyone yelled, “Grab a gun!!!”
Oh, yes he did. Hubs had secretly stashed them in our Suburban.
We had nine warriors on Thursday night.
There was the boy…
Patrick gave the group of boys a run-down on rules and regulations. There were flags to be captured, and arrests to be made for head shots. And DOES EVERYONE HAVE EYE PROTECTION? Because HELLO, EYEBALLS THAT YOUR OWN MOTHER WOULD LIKE YOU TO KEEP! Slips of paper were drawn to put boys on random teams, and then we cut the troop loose.
It’s what I do.
This batch of boys has come to expect it. Enzo even looked at me, pointed and said, “And three, two, one… cue the request for us to ‘gather together and smile.'”
(I still love Enzo.)
Cousin L was there, and she admitted to me, “Auntie, I don’t understand why shooting each other with these guns is so much fun. It really looks kind of dirty and boring.”
Dirty and boring. That about sums it up, Girlfriend!
Cousin K was there, too. He didn’t think the war looked dirty and boring at all. In fact, had the participants been… you know… SECOND GRADERS and not seventh graders, he would have joined in with a heart filled with happiness. K wasn’t so sure he wanted to be pitted against the big boys when they were armed and dangerous, so he made himself at home on the rope swing and in Patrick’s amazing tree fort.
Without a permit to carry a concealed weapon.
Five air soft pellets will send you to the patio for the paramedics and a possible Purple Heart.
After the shock of being shot BY HIS DAD, Patrick fired off a round.
BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG!
Hubs wanted to play, too, but he said, “I hate to jump into this and annihilate all the boys in seconds, like I’m capable of doing single handedly. Jason Bourne probably shouldn’t play against the kids.”
“I have two captives!”
“I need two agents!”
“I took out two enemies with one shot!”
“I could really go for two cupcakes about now!”
“Two fingers means STEAL HOME PLATE!”
We’re not really sure WHAT Enzo was signalling, because I’m not well-versed in the sign language of war.
I can’t believe I’m about to say this, because… well… BOYS! And it wasn’t typical behavior for boys, but… NO ONE WANTED TO STOP FOR HOT DOGS! Dinner was the furthest thing down on the boys’ list Thursday night, but they weren’t going to leave us with seventy-seven cooked hot dogs and all those unused buns.
It was also discovered if you loaded shrapnel into the cannon, along with BAKING FLOUR, it was even MORE FUN.
I wish that I could put into words how badly these boys smelled on Thursday evening. Take the carcass of a dead squid and put it into a garbage bag with rotten eggs, the sweat of forty-seven camels, and the entrails of a deer during hunting season. Tie the bag up and let it sit in the hot sun. Let it sit for seven days. Pick Phoenix, Arizona during August for this experiment. After a week, open that Hefty bag up.
Yep. That was the smell that came off of these boys after two and a half hours of crawling through the brush and the bushes… after climbing trees and jumping from trees and hurdling fences at a dead run… after wading on the sides of the pond and dripping sweat everywhere.
All nine of those boys were in POWERFULLY DESPERATE NEED of a shower. With soap. And a rinse and repeat.
We wrapped the party up at 8:00. The boys were not happy about this, because they still had ammunition left! There was still half a bag of flour left! It’s still light outside! Why do we have to quit now? WHOSE POOR IDEA WAS IT TO END THE PARTY AT 8:00???!!!
But we had parents arriving to pick boys up, so we called it a night, regardless of the strong protests.
The boys are already mapping out plans for their next air soft war.
And I think the boy was DADGUM STINKING HAPPY with his surprise birthday party. He even said, “This was the best party I have ever been to! I can’t believe it was MINE!” Yes, it was a terrific party.
Even if he had to eat hot dogs for dinner, which isn’t the best choice for birthday food.