Our now five year old had his birthday party last week. It was one of those crazy 90 minute affairs with kids jumping, screaming, singing, swinging, running, bouncing and climbing at warp speed intervals.
Thank God for good acoustics.
And for the fact that I didn’t have to clean up at the end.
After we said our last goodbye, we loaded our red-cheeked and cake-crusted birthday kid into our car, along with a big bag of presents from his generous gaggle of friends.
When we came home, we unloaded and headed out in the street with our neighbors to enjoy what had turned into a gorgeous spring afternoon.
While we were chasing the twins (who jump, scream, sing, swing, run, bounce and climb every waking moment of every day), our little birthday boy snuck around back, into the house and pillaged and plundered his way through his loot at warp speed intervals.
I knew there was something fishy going on when one of his friends came out and told me that he was handing out Tic tacs. I haven’t bought Tic Tacs since I saw the movie Juno.
I walked into my house and what could easily have been mistaken for the Von Trapp living room on Christmas morning: wrapping paper and ribbon strewn everywhere and all of the gifts opened and gathered in the small arms of VERY excited five year old boy.
I, however, was the other kind of excited. The shocked and dismayed kind of excited. For along with the wrapping paper and ribbons went the cards and gift tags. And my visions of sugar plums and organized, thoughtful thank you notes jumped, screamed, sang, swung, ran, bounced, and climbed right out the door.
I was very frustrated (read: furious) with the birthday boy’s actions and sent him to his room to think about what just happened.
But as I surveyed the scene and began to try to match the presents with their givers, tapping into my stellar deductive reasoning skills, I realized that my frustration was a little misplaced. And that the “thinking about what just happened” that was happening down the hall was a little ill-advised.
How, really, was he supposed to know? He knew the gifts were for him. It was his birthday party, after all. He knew he was destined to open them. He was excited.
And I should have known. I should have known that a five year old wouldn’t know why thank yous are significant. And a five year old wouldn’t know why it’s important we take the time. And a five year old wouldn’t know that the “who” in the who gives what is just as essential as the “what.”
It was a good reminder that sometimes I attribute adult understanding, logic and thought processes to a little mind who just doesn’t have the wisdom that my years have given me. And sometimes I should place myself in those size 9 light-up Spiderman sneakers for a few moments before jumping to conclusions and frustrations.
It was a good reminder and it was a good opportunity. To teach a lesson and have a conversation about why it is important to know who gave you a gift before you open it, why it is important to open a card first, and why it is important to appreciate the person who spent the time, thought and money to make your birthday a little more memorable.
So in the end we all received a present. It just took a little patience, understanding and compassion to unwrap it.
And it turns out the Tic Tacs were Pez.