Not a typo. At least not for this year, right son? How you managed to turn April 15, the day you were born, into a month-long extravaganza is beyond me. You've got skillz, boy. And you've got my old nemesis, fate, on the payroll again, don't you?
Let's see, it all started when we finally got your room set up after our massive renovation.
"Dad, can I get a fishtank?"
As a fish guy (15 fishtanks at home when I was in high school), I lit up when you said that. As a dad who just got rid of a 125-gallon pimped out fishtank over a year ago because you didn't seem invested enough in it to justify taking up 5% of our livable square footage, I smacked my forehead. And got you a smaller one. Mom and I both explained to you that this would be your birthday present. And you were ok with that.
And you totally got down n dirty with it! From washing the gravel to placing the decorations, to setting up the filtration system. As those of us in aquarist circles would say, you're a regular "wet sleeve."
And when you found that piece of gravel floating on the surface and picked it up, you completely validated my conclusion that you are indeed the coolest kid in the world.
Why? Because you said "hey dad, very small rocks DO float!" (dear reader, if you don't know why that makes him the coolest kid on the planet, watch this clip from 2:00 onward).
Now that it's nearly a month later, I look back upon our fishtank adventure and think "money well spent." Having a fishtank is a great way to foster a sense of responsibility in a child. You learn how to take care of a living creature, you understand in a less painful way the realities of life and death...and you learn to develop your own inventory tracking systems to monitor said life and death:
But unlike in nature, we have tupperware. Which means if you're unlucky enough to be designated as 1/2 dead, you win a stay at the floating fish veterinary hospital, where you will enjoy private quarters, have the finest flake food delivered to your door, and most importantly, be protected from the filter intake (where we found you) while you try to grow your fins back.
But you want to know the best argument for getting you a fishtank? It does what TV can do, without the TV!
And also, this is quite cool.
Ok, so after your present was taken care of, we had the issue of your birthday party to deal with. Mom did some research. Laser Tag you say? For 35 kids? Pretty much a mortgage payment. Let's keep looking. I hear sticks and leaves are the latest rage in kids parties.
Lucky for us, grandma called us around this time. And extra lucky for us, she is a really awesome ballroom dancer. Who is competing in nationals! In Vegas, baby, Vegas. You were more than happy to forgo your kids party for a weekend at the Luxor. (In this household, Vegas trumps all. Even to my seven-year-old. What... the magic shows are awesome).
"But what about my rowdy friends party!"
Oh yes, there's that. You're a sharp kid. You know that my friends are single guys with discretionary income and no kids. You know that means presents your kid friends would never get you (like that one-hand opening Smith & Wesson deer-gutting jack knife care of Uncle Magnus). And you will totally wear ridiculous tin foil hats and let women in tank tops and orange shorts do the birthday hokey pokey around you ("you put your frontside in, you put your frontside out" -- hmm you ARE smarter than I thought), and tolerate drunken high fives from my rowdy friends in order to get them. Four years running.
But that shirt they gave you. Mind if I borrow it until you grow into it?
And then there's that promise we made you. The one where we swore up and down that we would find that wii in Lolita's garage full of boxes. The extra one that she had packed away ages ago and said you could have. The one that I had to purchase avalanche insurance for before I could set out to find it.
The one I failed to find that day. And we felt terrible about because that was a promise we made to you for Christmas. And now it's your birthday. A promise is a promise...
Then your actual birthday rolled around just two days ago. A birthday where I have never been more thankful for the simple fact that I can put my hand on your little (but growing) shoulders, give you a squeeze, kiss the top of your head and just say "Happy birthday, Fury! I love you." Because life may be beautiful, but sadly, it isn't forever.
Your actual birthday wasn't supposed to be a big deal. Just a small dinner with mom, dad and auntie mei. But sometime around late morning, my phone rang. And the cosmic forces of "life is stranger than fiction" called upon Donald Sutherland, a crazy old lady with teal shoes, and the Los Angeles Federal Building to bring auntie Mr Lady to you, bearing Darth Vader puffy slippers, a Darth Vader watch and a set of metal wire 3D puzzles that would (did) drive a Harvard grad crazy trying to figure them out. And dinner went from a small informal night out with mom and dad to "well damn, it's a party now so let's call Lolita and her boys too."
Wow, kiddo. This month has been quite the party. And you are indeed a force to be reckoned with. Example?
Internet rock stars have coffee with me.
But they go ga-ga over you.
Happy birthday, my little buddy, my partner in crime, my mini-me, my better quarter, my half-teenager. Now go do your thing. I got your back and always will.