Sunday, July 12 2020

rodneys party 1

Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone! How are you feeling on this Sunday? This morning is kind of like the relaxing, coffee sipping eye of the hurricane between our back to back birthday parties, and I'm happy to say it's not as much work as we anticipated. It turns out that if you can leave all the party stuff set up, cleaning up and getting ready for a second party is not so bad.

Sip. I'm also feeling grateful that we have more time to get ready. Yesterday, after finishing my journal entry, I acted like I had plenty of time before the 11:30 start time. But dishes and cooking burned up the spare hours like a grease fire (not unlike the one I almost started making such a large batch of fajitas), and before I knew it I was pressed for time.

Marissa was my super hero yesterday morning, swooping into the final minutes to grate cheese, peel tomatoes, and put the finishing touches on the meal. Ironically, she was even wearing a mask and cape.

We joke that together we have foodcart chemistry. The two of us seem to have an uncanny ability for cooking around each other, even in the tightest of spaces. With subtle taps on the shoulder, succinct verbal cues, and a little bit of kitchen acrobatics, the two of us can simultaneously throw a meal together and clean up after ourselves without even a spill or a stubbed toe.

"We were meant to work in a food cart," Marissa laughed. "It's such a wasted gift!"

Mimi, Papa, Gigi, and Maya made their way into the backyard just as I was throwing tinfoil on the fajitas and setting out the pan of paella. I took off my apron and put on a super hero mask before joining them. Rodney was so excited to see everyone.

I was happy to switch from coffee to Margaritas. I need to take a moment to praise my mother in law's margarita recipe. Refreshing. Balanced. Just the perfect amount of tequila. And from what she tells me, it's a very simple recipe. "You can measure everything in the pitcher using a can of limemade," she says.

After catching up over some drinks and appetizers, we ate lunch on the deck, then Rodney started opening up presents. His birthday bounty included new legos, books, and a very slick four pack of Spider-Man boxer briefs.

Rodney also opened up a Spider-Man web shooter. The toy included a wrist mount, on which you could fasten a spray bottle of water or a can of silly string. While Marissa fiddled with the wrist mount, Rodney affixed the shooter onto the loaded the can of silly string. Rodney found the handle and pushed. A thick blue rope of webbing shot out and hit the side of our house. Everyone on the deck jumped from surprise.

Rodney grinned, then proceeded to blast everyone and everything on the deck with his web shooter. As we hunched behind paper plates, Rodney emptied the entire can of silly string on his unsuspecting family until there was nothing left in the can but filmy mist and little pieces of mushy confetti.

Moving the webs aside, we lit into the cake. Before we brought it out, I warned everyone about how Rodney likes to plug his ears whenever he hears the happy birthday song.

"We're not sure why he does it," I explained. "He doesn't seem to do it out of irritation. Just a weird thing he does."

plugging his ears

Kids can send really confusing signals.

After thanking everyone for showing up, we showed them out the backyard and retreated into our quiet house. Marissa put the cake away while I took Rodney up to his room for some quiet time. At his request, I opened up a box of legos for him, leaving the pieces in a neat pile in the center of his room.

"Dada," he asked. "Will you help me build this? Please?" he asked.

"Sorry dude," I replied with my eyes barely open. "Dada is too tired. Take a stab at it, and I'll help you after dinner."

I crashed in our bedroom, sailing into an afternoon nap. But even while sleeping, I still felt the lingering guilt of abandoning my son with a pile of legos. Waking up a few hours later, I peeked my head to check on him. Rodney was hunched over the legos, holding the single transparent piece that was meant to cover the cockpit of the jet plane.

"Dada," said Rodney. "I found the cab."

"You want some help, dude?" I asked. Rodney's eyes lit up. I fished the wrinkled instruction manual from underneath his bed and got to work.

"Wow dude," I said, pouring over the pile of legos. "This is pretty hard. This is definitely something we should have done together."

Legos are more cutthroat than I remember. A single missing piece can bring the entire Spider-Man jet construction project to a screeching halt.

"Help me look for the small grey circle piece," I said.

"Small... grey... circle piece...". Rodney's voice trailed off as he scanned the pile with me.

"Ah, there it is," I laughed, seeing it resting across the room on his window sill.

With some pieces still missing somewhere in his room, we were forced to make some modest budget cuts to the plane. "This is a special plane that only has one wing," I laughed. "Hey - we're ready for the cab!"

Rodney leapt to his feed and ran over to his desk to fetch the transparent cage. He snapped it into place.

"I LOVE IT," he yelled. "Now let's put the guy in."

Rodney lowered a headless torso into the cockpit, running off with the half assembled jet plane.

"How were the LEGO's?" asked Marissa coming out of a nap of her own.

"They're great!" I said. "I definitely shouldn't have left him alone with the pieces though. We had to improvise a bit." Rodney circled us with the slipshod half assembled jet, buzzing his lips in lieu of engine sounds.

spiderman jet

The Spider-Man Jet. Some assembly required, but not all of it.

"Hey, that's cool - he stuck the tail fin on all by himself," I said. "Dude, we'll leave the other lego sets in the box and build them together.