That’s how old my baby is now. The only difference I could detect between the day before his birthday and the day of his birthday is that he was proud to declare to one and all that he was now SEVEN. Seven sounds much older than six, I guess because seven is considered the “age of reason” – when a child becomes morally responsible. That’s heavy duty stuff for a kid who still bolts out of the house, but we are beginning to see flickers of understanding when he’s doing things that are “wrong.” But that’s a discussion for another day – on to birthdays and friends!
Confession: I hate birthday parties.
For the same reason I dislike field trips, I’m also not a fan of kids’ birthday parties. Large groups of excitable young kids are not my jam, which I freely admit. Last year, we did a birthday party at the park, and it was fine, but in kindergarten I knew all of the parents and kids pretty well. Now that Nathan is in first grade, it’s tougher. For a few weeks I contemplated a big party, and then – HORROR! – the one friend I absolutely positively knew HAD to come left the country for what I was told would be three weeks. Three weeks that would extend past Nathan’s birthday, and maybe longer if things didn’t go their way.
Nathan’s best friend is a little girl in his class named Nell, and she’s English. She’s a beautiful little girl and it shouldn’t matter a bit that she has an English accent, but in a sea of children who sound distinctly southern, it’s like having your very own Hogwarts friend right here in Alabama. And you know what else? She really is a wizard.
Nathan has had sweet girls as friends before – we love Lucy! – but Nell is different in that she isn’t simply a sweet girl who pays attention to him and loves him and plays with him. Nell may not be a wizard in the Harry Potter sense, but she IS magical because she keeps him in line – literally! Their teacher rearranged the line order so that Nathan walks in front of her; she redirects him if he starts to veer off course and he actually does what she says.
But as luck (or Providence, as I prefer to believe) would have it, Nell’s family made it back after only a week and a half abroad, and instead of a party we hosted a small affair at the bowling alley with just Nell’s family and ours. Nathan had never bowled before, and when we arrived I got a little nervous – it was “cosmic bowling” time which meant the lights were mostly off and I wasn’t sure how well that was going to go over. By the time we were ready, however, the lights were back on and all was well.
Nathan loved bowling…loved it so much, in fact, that we had to be vigilant so that he wouldn’t bowl when it wasn’t his turn. Our local bowling alley has a “kids bowl two games free” program weekdays in the summer so bowling may be a new family fun activity. Of course, that will require me to actually participate, which I didn’t do this time, because I’m a really bad bowler (and by “bad bowler” I don’t mean “low scoring” but “lost the ball into the cluster of people behind me on more than one occasion”).
In addition to a lovely picture that she drew herself and a remote controlled car that does flips, Nell gave Nathan a “Nell doll”. Her dad was horrified that his daughter was giving our rough-and-tumble boy what amounted to a Barbie doll, but it didn’t bother us a bit. She wanted Nathan to be able to have her with him all the time, and I think that’s just about the sweetest thing I’ve ever heard (she also got a boy doll with blond hair for herself that she named Nathan).
The eye roll is for making him pose for a photo, NOT because of the doll, I promise.
We don’t always know how much Nathan understands when it comes to abstract concepts, but he clearly got the gist of what was intended. He calls the doll “Nell” and asked to sleep with it that very night.
Nell’s mom and I talked about school a bit. She worries that Nell goes overboard with Nathan, but I reassured her that she is exactly what he needs (the classroom aide has joked about needing to offer her part of her salary because she’s so helpful). Nell gives Nathan affection, quality time, and reality checks.