Today I turn five years old, and I can’t wait till everyone shows up. Exactly twenty minutes till everyone is supposed to be here, then we can play tag in the huge indoor jungle gym. My mom even bought my favourite cake, Dairy Queen’s ice cream cake. My birthday party is going to be a great time as I get to open presents, which is my second favourite part of my birthday. My absolute favourite thing about my birthday is that we can play tag in the jungle gym. Things get very intense and wild when playing with my friends because we are all so competitive. My friends show up and it’s time to play. Ryan starts to count and we all run. I jump head first into the ball pit but decide to get out and run through a narrow tunnel to get to the top of the jungle gym which leads to the slides. There’s a plastic board so I can see bellow. I see my mom greeting all my friends parents and taking their coats.
She looks really tired and for some reason sad so I yell, “Mama look, I’m at the top!”
She smiles and waves but returns to what she was doing. I can hear him coming and he’s coming fast. I gave my hiding spot away. I turn to my left and I can see him plowing through the obstacles in the tunnel. I slide down the slide to my right. Swoosh! My feet hit the ground and I start running to another entrance. Swoosh! The entrance is blocked off with older kids and I can’t get in. I turn around and he’s right there.
“Everyone come for presents and cake” my mom yells.
Saved! We sit down at a table and Ryan shoves his gift in my hands. I rip through the wrapping paper to find a box. I try to open it but it’s taped shut. I try and I try but I can’t get it open. My mom cuts the tape and hands it to me. I open it and stare at it. Ryan looks nervous and doesn’t stop jittering. It’s… It’s perfect. It’s the new Lego battleship I’ve wanted forever. I hug Ryan and tell him that I love his gift. I continue to open the rest of the gifts, then it’s cake time. They sing me Happy Birthday then I blow out my candles. I take a deep breath and exhale making sure I got them all or else my wish won’t come true. I get the first slice and devour it in seconds. We play a few more rounds of tag and then everyone started to head home. I say “goodbye” and my “thank you” to all my friends who came and soon it’s just me and my mom. She’s cleaning the table as I sit on a chair. I lower my head and wait until she’s done cleaning.
“Did you have fun?”, she asked.
“Yes, I had so much fun! Thank you! I didn’t even get tagged the whole time and I got awesome gifts!” I reply like I’ve rebooted, like a robot and gained all my energy again.
We put on our coats and we head to the car. As soon as I put on my seat belt and lean back I fall deep asleep. I wake up in my bed and slowing turn to my Star Wars clock to check the time. My mom walks in, sits on my bed and brushed my hair.
“You’re gassed, aren’t you?” she said with a smile.
I thank her for everything as she gently makes her way towards the door. I roll over onto my side.
“Goodnight mom. You’re the best!” I say with an exhausted voice. My eyes shut and I’m back to thinking about cowboys and aliens, sound asleep.
I can’t wait to go to Max’s birthday party because he’s my best friend. We’re going to the best and biggest indoor jungle gym in town and I’m so excited. My dad was rambling on and on saying, “It must have been so hard to get a reservation there cause it’s always booked”. I don’t really understand what that means, but he said it like it was a good thing. I got Max some Lego’s because I know he loves Lego’s. I got him the battleship Lego kit because he really likes coming on my boat with my dad and I, during the summer. He always talks about our boat and how he can’t go on it during the winter time. It’s almost time to go to his party I think with a huge smile on my face. My hands are tense in fists, shaking with excitement.
“Dad, let’s go! I don’t want to be late”, I say while I swing the front door of our house open. I race towards the car and beat my dad to the car like usual. I’m feeling fast today. It must have been the broccoli I ate for lunch. My mom always says that it will make me stronger and faster. My dad rolls into the empty parking lot and says that we’re early. The fresh snow made the drive very slippery but my dad is a speedy driver so we didn’t really have to leave our house an hour early.
My dad laughs and says, “I haven’t done this in a while” to himself and tells me to hold on. He speeds up and starts to do donuts in the parking lot. I don’t know what’s purring louder, the car engine or my heart beat. Full of adrenaline, we walk into the indoor jungle gym. I say hi to everyone and we go play tag. I volunteer to go “it” in tag because like I said before, I’m feeling fast. I close my eyes and spin in a circle counting to thirty. I start to stumble at twenty-five so I open my eyes. The game begins as I look for everyone. I fly into the ball pit and sink in. I freeze for a second and I listen if the balls around me move. No one is hiding in here so I get up and listen, much like a snow fox uses his ears to try to and find his prey under the snow.
“Mama look, I’m at the top!”, I hear Max yell as he looks out of a plastic window at the top of the jungle gym.
I sprint through the thin tunnels, weaving my way around obstacles and other random kids. I can see him at the end of my tunnel, as I catch my breath for second. I’m so close to catching him, I plow through the obstacles in my way and almost touch him. He takes the slide. Swoosh! I squeeze my long legs in the slide and get to the bottom. Swoosh! Finally, he’s stuck, trying to get into the jungle gym. I have him now with nowhere to go. I confidently walk towards him, when all of a sudden his mom screams.
“Everyone come for presents and cake”.
All that effort for nothing I think to myself as I drag my feet the table where the presents are placed neatly. I sourly shove my present in Max’s hands and wait for him to open it. I suddenly feel bad for aggressively placing the gift in his hands and I hope he forgets about it and likes my gift. He rips through the wrapping papers but struggles with the box. The suspense is killing me. I really hope he likes my gift. My palms of my hands start to sweat a little as his mom helps him open the box. His eyes grow huge and his mouth opens wide. He rushes to me and hugs me and says he loves it. I hug him back and once he lets go, I let out a large breath of relief. He continues to open his other presents but no one else gets the reaction that he got when he opened mine. I feel a sense of relief and pride as I sip my grape juice, knowing that I got him a present he really likes. We sing him “Happy Birthday” and we eat a delicious Dairy Queen ice cream cake. After we finish eating, we start playing tag again and another kid is it, thankfully. I hide in the ball pit for abit then my dad comes over and says it’s time to go home. I say goodbye to everyone and put on my coat. I walk towards the car with my dad but I let him get there first. He looks at me strangely.
“I can’t always win”, I explain, smiling from ear to ear.
Today is a very important day, it’s my only son’s fifth birthday. I have tried so hard to make it a special and memorable day for him because he only turns five once, right? I’ve lost track of time as I’ve been scrambling around the past couple of days making sure I have everything for Max’s party. We arrive at the biggest indoor jungle gym in the area and I must say I’m impressed. I start to understand why I had to reserve one year in advance. This place is filled with little kids running around and they seem to be having a blast. I just hope Max and his friends have a great time. The last thing I want to hear is that Max’s birthday was boring. That would crush me. A worker points me towards the table that we reserved. I dodge kids left and right while holding Max’s favourite kind of cake in one hand and an enormous bag of drinks and snacks in the other. I take my coat off and put it on the back of a chair. Max’s friends start to arrive and I greet their parents. The kids go off and play tag in the jungle gym. In the meantime I take their coats and offer them a coffee or tea.
“Mama look, I’m at the top!”, Max yells down at me from the top of the jungle gym.
I smile and wave with a hand full of coats. I see Ryan, one of Max’s friends, pop up from the ball pit and look right at Max. Ryan sprints into the jungle gym, he ripping through the obstacles in his path like how a tornado would through a house. I stand still in the middle of the playground, watching this all happen. I think to myself for a quick second and stay fixed on the crazy chase. This is like a scene from Rush Hour Two. I snap out of my mini day dream and it hits me, he’s going to get caught because he wanted to show me how much fun he was having. I’m so happy that he even thought about me while he was playing tag with his friends. As Ryan shrinks his distance in a matter of seconds, I start to feel bad for Max. He smoothly goes down the slide and heads for an entrance. He’s blocked by other kids that in my opinion seem too old to be here. Ryan stumbles a little on the slide and meets Max at the bottom. Ryan walks towards Max with his head up high, a little too confidently for my liking and right when he’s about to tag Max, I panicked.
“Everyone come for presents and cake,” I screamed.
Seeing the disappointment in Ryan's eyes made me feel awful. I ruined all the fun for Ryan just to make my own son happy. All the kids run back to our table huffing and puffing like a pack of wolves. Ryan, still pouting a little from the game of tag, hands Max his present. Max crumples the wrapping paper easily but starts to struggle with the box. After a few seconds of him struggling, I take the box and cut the tape with my nail. Max opens the box and freaks out. He immediately hugs Ryan and tell him he loves it. Ryans face turns from a frown to a massive smile. Ryan got him the Lego kit he’s wanted so badly. Max unwraps his other gifts while some other parents and I get juice boxes and the cake. I light his candles and bring over his Dark Vader Dairy Queens ice cream cake. He blows out his candles and I start to cut the cake. I give the birthday boy the first slice then cut up a big slice up for Ryan because I still feel bad. I continue to give out cake till the boys are done eating. The kids head back into jungle gym while the other parents and I eat some cake and drink coffee. After a while, kids start to head home. Once Max’s last friend leaves, I start cleaning the table and he sits on a chair with his head down.
“Did you have fun?”, I say worriedly.
“Yes, I had so much fun! Thank you! I didn’t even get tagged the whole time and I got awesome gifts!” he replied, all fired up again about his toys.
We put on our coats and drive home. Max was asleep before we left the parking lot. I carry him into bed when we get home. I check up on him later and he’s awake. I sit down on his bed and brush his short brown hair.
“You’re gassed, aren’t you?” I say in a soft voice.
As I quietly leave his room, he thanks me for everything.
“Goodnight mom. You’re the best!”, he says in a tired voice.
My spine shivers as I hear those worlds come out of my sons mouth. A tear of happiness dribbles down my cheek. Those are the words every mom strives to hear come out of their sons mouth.
My birthday wish was to make my mom happy.