Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Jake's Belated Birthday Outing: Part One


Wouldn't you just like to give this little guy a hug?

On Saturday, Bun and Kris and I took Jake on a belated birthday outing. It was the perfect day for it. The weather was suddenly so warm and spring-like. Bunny’s Taiwan cherry was in full, hot-pink bloom, dancing with bees, and there were delicate trilliums and anemones popping up around its roots. When I came to pick Bun up on the way to Kris’s house, I got to take a little tour of her yard and dream up dreamy photo shoots. I imagined posing Bunny in a demure pink '50s dress, with a full skirt and crinoline, amidst the branches of that venerable cherry, the ridiculous hot-pink blossoms blurred all around her and the sunlight the color of champagne.

Jake was so excited about our big day. Bun and I got to his house at 10:30 and Kris told us he’d been waiting for hours, asking over and over again, “So, Mommy, what time are they going to get here?”

Kris was the one who answered the door, and Jake came running up behind her almost immediately. He tripped, completely on purpose, and greeted us with a dramatic fall onto the welcome mat.

“Uh, are you okay there, Jake?” Bunny asked, smiling. “That was quite an entrance.”

Apparently he was okay, because he went running into the TV room.

“He wants you to play Let’s Dance with him,” Kris explained, rolling her eyes. “He had it all planned out.”

And so we played Let’s Dance. I was the worst dancer, of course; I was hiding in back, behind the couch. I kept running into the cat tree.

After our game (which left me pretty winded), Kris told a funny story about her cat Tuxie. “You’ll be glad to know,” she said, “that Tuxie has created a marvelously cozy nest in my closet, back behind my clothes. She made it using balls of yarn, several Webkinz, a pig nose, a pair of Sarah’s shoes, and Lanie’s pet rabbit.” (Sarah and Lanie are Sophie’s American Girls.)

“Didn’t Feltie help her?” I asked. (Feltie is Tuxie’s sister.)

“Feltie cuddles in the nest with her, but it’s Tuxie who does all the gathering,” Kris said. She said Tuxie is very particular about the Webkinz she chooses for nest building. She always chooses the same ones.

Jake was so excited, it was hard for Kris to tell this very short story. He was ready to go. He was ready to go to the Fun Station! He was talking a mile a minute. “First we will play laser tag!” he cried. “And then we will do the bumper boats!”

“Do they have snacks at the Fun Station?” I asked. “I’m pretty hungry.”

“They have pizza!” Jake cried. “We can have pizza, Leslie! Mommy, let’s have pizza for lunch!”

“Sounds good to me,” I said.

“And we can play skee-ball!” Jake cried. “Bunny, do you like to play skee-ball?”

“I love skee-ball,” Bun replied.

He was so excited. He was even shaking a little.

So finally it was time to go. We headed down the road in Kris’s car, the neighborhood all glorious with sunlight and cherry blossoms, and we started asking Jake about his class’s Valentine’s Day party.

“So, Jake,” Bunny said, “tell us about your Valentine’s Day party.”

“Yeah,” I said. “Did you have cupcakes? Did you get any candy?”

Jake didn’t answer. He was sitting in the backseat, looking down, quite dramatically, quite hammily, his little chin in his little hand.

“Jake?” Kris said.

“I’m thinking,” Jake replied. Not about the party but about larger, more philosophical issues, apparently. The big picture. He explained: “Sometimes I just like thinking and reading.”

Then he went back to his very theatrical and showy musings; he seemed to have modeled his pose directly after Rodin’s The Thinker.

When he was finished with his thoughts, he said to me again, “I like thinking.” He was boasting, but in the shyest way, his tone humble and proud both at once. I could tell he hoped to impress us with his substance, his depth. He uses the same tone when he tells us, “I’m sensitive. Would you like to talk about my feelings?” Or: “I like nature.” He knows girls appreciate these sorts of things.

“Well, I’m really glad I get to spend the day with such a thoughtful young man,” I said.

“Me too,” Bunny said.

. . . And I’ll tell you more tomorrow. . . .

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