On November 20th, PJC turned 5. He has never been so excited for a birthday. He made a chain in his preschool classroom and has been counting down the days. He also took total ownership over this party and had very set ideas on how it should be spent.
The first is that he had rules for his birthday. He kept saying, “It’s my birthday and my rules. First rule: No naps! Second rule: No Fun Squad! (Fun Squad are the youtube videos that his brother obsessively watches which bores PJC to death). AJC relented and let PJC pick all videos for the day.
The second thing he really owned was his party. He had been telling me for the past year that he was going to have a Spinasaurus party. This would have been the 4th dinosaur party in a row that I had thrown for him. He argued that this was different because last year was a T-rex party. He is very loyal to his favorite dinosaur du jour. I was happy to oblige as I had saved all my decorations from the past two years. However, shortly after Halloween, he threw me a curve ball. He no longer wanted a dinosaur party. He wanted a skeleton party. Hmmm…a skeleton party- like a Halloween party where people dress up? No, a skeleton party with pumpkins, but not scary skeletons and definitely not Dia de los Muertos skeletons. Okay…. He also specifically wanted a black tablecloth and white plates. Okay…
Luckily I was able to find some “cool” iridescent skeleton decorations that were more fun than scary. I got the party all ready and sent out the invites (that he also helped pick out). Then, in true 2020 fashion, we had a COVID outbreak in our small town. We had been living for months in a relatively protected bubble, and our group of friends had become very comfortable having events with each other. However, that week we all had been exposed to someone we knew was positive. Four of our friends/families including us quarantined for a week and then took rapid tests. Luckily all the results were negative. However, I still felt it was safest to cancel the bigger party.
Instead, we threw an intimate party with three other kids that live in our neighborhood. And actually, it was really nice not to manage a large gaggle of kiddos. I still think it felt like a “party” to PJC.
In line with the skeleton theme, the kids started by doing crafts while eating snacks. The craft was decorating their piñata bag and assembling with skeleton magnet that had a cool saying on it.
We then played a few games. I had bought a skeleton beach toy set and hid the individual pieces around the yard. I then told a long story about “Billy Bob Blue Bones” and his fateful journey. Their job was to find all the bones and assemble them in the right way so that his spirit could be free. We also played eyeball races (using a straw to blow the eyeballs across the finish line) and “Pin the Bowtie on the Skeleton.” Of course it wouldn’t be a party without the skeleton piñata.
The kids then enjoyed a hamburger dinner while watching “Sword in the Stone”- PJC’s pick of course. The night ended with a sparkler candle on his Skull cupcakes. While it wasn’t the party I had envisioned, it ended up being perfect. I think Parker was happy, although he would never tell me. When I asked if he liked his party he said not the story of “Billy Bob Bluebones,” but I think he truly liked everything else. There was one moment when everyone was signing him “Happy Birthday” that he locked eyes with me and smiled.
I’m very excited to see what this year brings to PJC. Five is always a special year for kids where they truly transition out of toddlerhood to full kiddo. PJC can be a bit hard to read. He’ll go for weeks where I feel like he only makes animal sounds to giving a full dissertation on something. Sometimes I am amazed at his problem solving ability and his desire to be independent. He can spend a long time outside just crushing rocks or playing with leaves. We have always said that he feels big feelings. When he is happy you know, and lately, you definitely know when he is angry. But now, I am also starting to him try to be stoic and protective (especially of AJC). He told me the other day after I had yelled at AJC and sent him to bed without story time, “I want to tell you something. When you talk like that to him, it hurts his heart and makes him sad!” Another time, when we were talking about Indigenous people and how they have been treated, he started to get teary eyed and said, “When I get to heaven, I’m going to talk to God about that.” It’s hard to really know him because he doesn’t sit still long enough to truly connect (unless he’s sleeping completely on top of me in the mornings). He also won’t give you much love- an Inuit kiss or butterfly kiss is his favorite way to let you close. But, I think that’s because love is such a big feeling for him to feel that it can be overwhelming sometimes. I find him to be complex and simple all at the same time. I watch his development with curiosity and wonder.