Because this is a busy month for us, we decided that Jamison’s birthday would be divided between two separate weekends. The first weekend, as per the birthday boy’s request, we headed to San Antonio. Among all of the wonderfully different and interesting restaurants to choose from in San Antonio, my cautious boy choose IHOP. “There is just something about those ‘Rooty, Tooty, Fresh, ‘N Fruity’ breakfasts.” Jamison explained. On that admission, I couldn’t argue with his 11-year-old wisdom. Jamison placed his order, “A ‘Rooty, Tooty, Fresh, ‘N Fruity’ without the fresh or the fruity.” The waitress managed to give us a quizzical expression which turned into a smile as she brought him plain, normal pancakes. He digs in and is as happy as a lark, adding how much he loves those special “Rooty, Tooty, Fresh ‘N Fruitys.”
The next stop on the birthday express was North Star Mall, as they contain the only LEGO store in the city. While we were walking through the mall I was regaled with stories about how Legos were developed in Denmark in 1932, are a privately held company, the reason for the name Lego, and the fact the first plastic Legos will still fit today’s Legos. My son proudly told me that he gotten on my phone and googled Legos. As my gaze would occasionally turn longingly at store displays, a new Lego fact would suddenly emerge with questions asked to make sure that I was fully engaged. This was his day, he knew that, and he was enjoying every minute of it. My begging to quickly run into the Kate Spade store fell on deaf ears as I was met with puppy-dog eyes and the questions, “And just whose birthday is it? Who has this as their special day?” Oh, that 11-year-old is a clever one.
As we neared the infamous Lego store, which was packed with legions of children, Jamison immediately stopped in his tracks at the entrance and spread his arms out wide. “I have been waiting my whole life for this moment.” He unapologetically declared with a wide, toothy grin. “Um, yeah, this is all a tad dramatic, don’t you think?” Austin, his 14-year-old older brother, while rolling his eyes, murmured totally unimpressed as his gaze shifted to the other shoppers who were giggling and staring at Jamison’s declaration. But, Jamison could not be deterred as he looked up and down at the display shelves and Lego boxes ready for purchase. Of course he found the perfect Lego set that he didn’t already own and decided that it would make his 11-year-old life complete if it came home with him. Then with sparkling green eyes, as if he was starring in a credit card commercial, he proudly produced his Lego Club member card from his pocket. He smugly handed it to a shocked John, who being the good dad, was already getting his wallet from his back pocket. “Dad, I’ve got you covered. I came prepared.” His Lego discount was promptly applied. The gift was held tightly in his lap the entire ride home.
The following weekend, Mimi and Popsy celebrated Jamison’s birthday with him. Austin had a Valentine’s Dance to go to that missing would simply ruin his teenage life, so Jamison was pleased to have Mimi and Popsy all to himself. He decided that he wanted to go eat dinner at a local Mexican food restaurant. They have the best chili con queso and they even put queso on tostados, and that is Jamison’s happy food as he declares, “I mean they just melt in your mouth. No chewing required. Cheesy goodness.” Again, I can’t argue with that.
When Mimi and Popsy produced a tuckered out Jamison later that evening I was told that he ate 5 queso tostados, a bowl of chili con queso before the meal, and he handed me a to-go container full of three more cheese covered tostados. “It was his birthday dinner and his choice.” Popsy explained in typical grandparent’s prerogative. Jamison started swaying on his feet and with eyes heavy with sleep as he hugged Mimi and Popsy’s necks and said, “My meal of queso was just perfect. No vegetables to get in the way. Thank you for best birthday present ever.” Then he reached for John and me. He hugged us, with now completely shut eyes already in in a cheese coma, and whispered to us saying, “Thank you for the Lego set. That is the best birthday present ever.”
He bid us goodnight, said it had been a long day, and headed to his bed where he promptly crashed still dressed. John, Mimi, Popsy, and I looked at each other in bewilderment about the compliment we both received. It was amazing to us at how much he had grown up and how he officially learned to play the game. He understood at his young age to make everyone feel appreciated just like they had given him the very best thing ever. Pleased with ourselves that we were able to make his birthday special, and realizing that all it took was a Lego set and all the cheese he could possibly eat. If only all birthdays could be this easy. I smile as I issue this warning: Texas Governor Greg Abbott better watch out. I believe that I have a certain 11-year-old who has a political career in his future.