Ben turned three this past Friday. I adore three-year-olds. I am probably guilty of saying that about every age, though – I just enjoy the heck out of all of my kids’ stages. I will admit that three seems awfully big for the “baby” of the family, which made me just ever-so-slightly wistful and sappy about this birthday.
But I’m so excited about what’s coming next for Ben that it’s hard to get too sad about saying goodbye to babyhood. Besides, both of my kids have promised that they’ll be my babies forever – “even when we’re as big as Daddy!” – and I’m pretty sure a puppy would fix me up right quick if I get too sad.
And poor Ben, with his April birthday, always seems to get his celebration shifted around for Easter, or a church anniversary celebration, or an impending move. At least he’s never really known the difference. Last year, he had a Shaun the Sheep birthday party (look at how much he’s grown!).
And the year before that, I went a little nuts with a “B” theme.
Ben had an awesome third birthday this year. We went out for doughnuts for breakfast, and then waited for big brother Rowan to get home for cake and presents.
By the way, if you’re a three-year-old boy, I’m not sure there’s anything better than a six-year-old brother who will get just as excited as you are about your birthday, and will even assemble all of your gifts for you, and put the decals on in exactly the right position.
And speaking of Rowan, do you see the patchwork elephant in the foreground of that last photo? That’s Rowan’s kindergarten class mascot, Elmer the Elephant. Elmer is a beloved class “pet” who travels home with different students every weekend, and then the students chronicle his adventures with them. This was Rowan’s first time with Elmer, and he came FLYING off the bus on Friday, gleeful that he GOT ELMER FOR THE WEEKEND. Alert the press. I’ve never seen the child so excited about … anything, really. And I have to say, Elmer picked a fine weekend to come home with Rowan. Ben’s birthday, a play at the children’s theater, lunch at Noodles & Company – I’m pretty sure a stuffed elephant never had it so good.
But back to the birthday boy! Do you see what else is in that photo, to the right of Elmer? Play money. It’s a Melissa & Doug set that I picked up at TJ Maxx for something like eight dollars. The child is obsessed with money. He has known the symbol for our bank for at least a year, and whenever we see it around town, he yells, “DAT DA MONEY!” It’s only slightly disturbing. Anyway, I love giving gifts, especially when I know the recipient is really going to love it. I knew that Ben would love this, and I was just giddy to give it to him, especially because I kind of feel like as the second boy in the family, he kind of gets cheated when it comes to presents, because his brother got all of the good stuff first. Also, Ben is the most generous child I have ever known – “What you want for your birfday, Mommy?” So, it’s nice to give back to someone who is so giving with his affection and sweetness. The “money” was a big hit, and the kids spent Saturday morning showering each other in fake cash. My little capitalists.
Speaking of knowing what Ben likes, he had one request for his birthday cake. It had to have Ripslinger on it. Ripslinger (or Wipswinger, if you’re newly three) is the villain in the movie Planes, which was produced by the same people who made the Disney Cars movie. We’re a little bit obsessed with Planes here. Ripslinger isn’t the main, lovable character. In fact, Ripslinger is kind of mean. But, in the survivalist wisdom of a second child, Ben has taken a shine to Ripslinger, because Rowan almost never wants to play the villain. Therefore, there’s no argument over who gets to “be” or have Ripslinger. I can barely draw Ripslinger with a pencil and paper, much less ice him onto a cake. Let’s face it. I don’t do pretty.
And so, I called the good people at Wuollet Bakery to outsource the project. They did a great job! Due to copyright laws (I think?), they couldn’t reproduce Ripslinger’s image on the cake, so they just nestled him into a cloudy sky.
We quickly cleaned up the presents and cake so that we could scoot out for our next activity. My parents offered to give Ben an “experience” gift for his birthday, which was just right, especially this year, when we’re gearing up to pack up all of our belongings to move (again). There’s a great Children’s Theater near here that premiered its production of “The True Story of the Three Little Pigs” on Ben’s birthday. My parents bought our tickets, and we all loved it. Even Elmer. And especially baby Ben.