Thursday, July 9 2020

rodneys birthday

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone! I hope you're feeling good on this warm, arid summer Thursday. After a day of birthday shenanigans, Rodney and I are back to our regularly scheduled programming. We showered, ate breakfast, and are currently posted on the couch waking up with, respectively, a Blippi video and a hot cup of coffee.

Rodney's birthday yesterday began with breakfast in bed. Out of all the fun and satisfying things on the Recker breakfast menu, Rodney specially requested the least interesting thing of all - an apple flavored cereal bar (or a crappy bar, as he calls them).

So Marissa and I did our best to spruce it up for the occasion. We snapped it in half and impaled it with a single birthday candle. We walked it into Rodney's room singing Happy Birthday. Rodney just sat on his bed and smiled.

birthday crappy bar

Are you sure you don't want... um... like an actual breakfast?

We were prepared to let Rodney enjoy his breakfast in bed, but I guess that's not so much of a luxury when your a kid. Rodney wanted to eat it at the table like a regular day. Rodney gaped at the beautiful Spider-man cake Marissa decorated for him, and we even used the leftover red frosting to garnish his bland cereal bar.

birthday eating breakfast

"The red frosting was an impactful upgrade. It turns out sugar makes breakfast taste a lot better."

From the table, we moved to the living room to open Rodney's presents. With delight, Rodney tore open the wrapping paper and cardboard while I corralled the waste into a garbage bag. Marissa immediately began assembling his first toy.

"I think I underestimated how complicated this toy would be," she laughed, squinting at the instructions. I crouched on the floor to join the effort. Rodney first opened a monster truck trailer stunt ramp. From the picture, it just looked like a big ramp attached to a trailer, but there were smaller parts meant to serve as booby traps. The car in the front of the pack would roll over a lever, triggering a spring that would fling cars tailing behind. Rodney watched with equal parts delight and confusion as the track sprung to life and three of the trucks went sailing across the living room.

Next came the Spider-man gifts. Rodney opened up a very mouthy Spider-man that, at a button press, would say phrases like You make a lousy bad guy! and Yeah, I'm not an Avenger, but I got 'em on speed dial. He also had little buttons on his wrist that would should plastic webbing. Rodney mashed all the buttons at once, but the web shooter was jammed.


I made a face at Marissa. "What does that button do?" I asked quietly? "It sounds like he's just crapping his pants."

Marissa began to laugh as she investigated the jammed web shooter.

"Dude, why is there a button that makes Spider-man crap his pants?" I laughed, running with the joke.

"Got it," said Marissa. The plastic webbing flew out and rolled across the room. PLLLLLFFFFRTFRFFBBBRRRLL. "Oh gross, that one sounded wet," she laughed.


I hope you have a dry cleaners on speed dial too, Spider-man.

After Rodney had finished opening his gifts, we gave him some time to play. I had forgotten how glorious it felt to be left alone in the morning with coffee. I think Rodney had grown out of his old toddler toys a long time ago, and I've just gotten used to him playing with things like tape, markers, and socks - household items that require more intervention than actual toys.

"Wow," I said. "Is this morning about to be relaxing?"

"I think so," said Marissa, glancing over at Rodney. He was splayed out on the floor, quietly rolling his monster truck toys on his new ramps. With the scuffling of wheels and the quipping toy Spider-man making the only sounds in the room, we both peacefully nodded off on the couch.

I emerged from our unplanned morning nap to start on lunch. For me and Marissa, I made a batch of soup with toasted bread, but by special request, the birthday boy got his own box of mac and cheese along with a glass of chocolate milk - his second glass of chocolate milk since breakfast. After eating, we played a round of Candy Land at the table. Regardless if he won or not, we had planned on letting Rodney take a prize from the bowl of Spider-man party favors. But Rodney remains the Bobby Fischer of Candy Land, drawing two special candy cards and wiping the board with us in only five turns.

We moved outside for a birthday silly string battle. The anticipation was palpable. How often do you get to introduce the miracle of silly string to another human being? And Rodney felt the anticipation too, donning his night vision goggles and favorite socks over his hands. He even stopped us in the kitchen to assign us all new super hero names.

"You're Captain America," he said pointing at me. "And momma - you're sizzard."

Marissa and I turned to each other. "Lizzard," we said in unison.

"And Ollie," said Rodney getting on his knees. "You're OAK."

"That means the hulk," said Marissa to me in a side conversation.

"Yeah," said Rodney overhearing. "Look at his green eyes. And Ziggy is the GREEN GLO-bin."

We deployed the first silly string containers in the driveway. Rodney wasn't quite strong enough to handle one on his own, but he was just as happy to woosh around the yard while we did all the battling.

We chased Rodney around the driveway. He leapt through the grass and over our bushes. He put up a good fight, but even with his super speed, he could not escape the silly string assault. Marissa stalked Rodney through the front yard. Rodney took cover behind me while I took pictures.

silly string sizzard

The fearsome Sizzard. Baby monitor not included.

Rodney and I retaliated.

silly string in the face 2

It turns out the Sizzard's weakness is just more silly string.

The tide turned. Sizzard was no match for a teamed up Captain America and Super Hero Rodney. We showed no mercy, unleashing a barrage of gooey string.

silly string

The Sizzard retreating into her basement art studio.

After about five minutes of battle, we spent the next twenty minutes cleaning up all the dry, caking silly string in the front yard.

"You know silly string is a great metaphor for raising kids," I said to Marissa. "For every five minutes of fun they have, it probably means twenty minutes of cleaning up for the adult in their life."

And it turns out there's no easy way to clean up silly string. Sweeping it just breaks it into smaller pieces. Raking it just hides it deeper in the grass. It turns out the most effective way to dispose of it is to just waltz around and use your fingers to wad it up into a big oily ball.

Rodney took his new toys to his room for quiet time, and then we ordered a pizza for dinner. We had been teasing Rodney all day about how he was officially a big kid now. Rodney laughed it off, but I started to suspect there was some truth to the joke. Rodney seemed older. It doesn't feel right calling him a toddler anymore. In only a year, he's grown into a boy with jokes, preferences, hopes, and fears. It's funny how growing up happens right in front of you every day in your living room or at the dinner table, but you don't have a lot of moments to stand back and appreciate the time that's passed.

Thanks for stopping by today. Have a great day today.