Birthdays are the theme around our home in June. Some with birthdays early in the month get the full birthday energy attention and others, sibling #2 and Mom, work to keep the birthday celebrations going at full steam at the end of the month. I am pretty sure after talking with lots of parents that girls typically want more hype than boys when it comes to celebrating their birthdays. Boys are just more laid back about it.
After my 8-year-old daughter Ava’s birthday early June complete with 10 girls and a disco ball, I was all for keeping it simple for my 6-year-old son, Calvin’s birthday. Simple, but equally as meaningful. He shared his actual birthday with Dad on Father’s Day. We were supposed to be coming off a great night of camping with friends from his school and their families, but the weather didn’t cooperate. The campers in our family even wanted to bake a cake in a dutch oven on the trip. I was skeptical. Turns out that pre-birthday eve, we went to the Mediterranean Cruise Cafe and roller skating in Burnsville at Skateville with just our family instead.
Upon the heels of the long-awaited release of Cars2 on June 24, we opted to have Calvin’s birthday celebration with friends too, a few nights later with a viewing of the movie. I purchased tickets online for the AMC Theater (with a $1.50 service fee per ticket) for a 3:30 afternoon show for him, two friends, his sister and four grown-ups. One friend was dropped off at our house, the other we picked up. One of them had just seen Cars2 with his family the night prior, but did not mind a second viewing at all.
The challenge at the theater: concessions. I pointed to one cup, asking if it was a large. No, that would be small. Okay, so one small Sprite with three small glasses of ice only please. I went with a medium popcorn, Dots and Gummi Bears. When we’re seated, I divvy up the soda. It’s more difficult to share the other stuff so each one of them gets to be in charge of one item and share. I have seen the kids snack trays, but haven’t yet gone this route (value?). They consume nearly every last Gummi and Dot, the few of which end up on the theater floor only to be transferred to Nana and Papa’s shoes after the show.
After what seems like 30 minutes of previews, the movie begins. Cars2 is fast-paced with a jumble of concepts, themes, characters and locations all rolled into speed-talking dialogue, action and what would be good humor if they paused enough to let it all sink in. The local paper gave it two stars and called it a dull ride, which I had read prior to seeing it. It tapered my expectations. The boys enjoyed it. I constantly compared it to the magic that was the first Cars and found it missing. Ava agreed. There were some James Bond scenes (the opening), great scenery (Monte Carlo, London) and the irony of a rusty tow truck from Radiator Springs becoming the CIA’s most wanted spy.
The boys’ takeaway included the spy boats from the opening and Mater’s mistaking of wasabi for pistachio ice cream. Without much mention of Lightening McQueen, we left the theater to fill up our tanks. The neighborhood pizza joint off 66th and Penn, Fireside Pizza, was our destination. It is low-key, good for kids and families and accommodated our party of six grown-ups (two more joined post movie) and four kids. We let the boys have their own booth next to us. Calvin opened his gifts – 2 cars (from the movie of the same name), a StarWars Lego fighter jet and golf balls, tees and a Twins hat from his sister. He has never had gifts from friends at a party. Cool in his book.
They bubbled their milk, ran to the pinball/ gumball machine to burn through their quarters and remained in a constant state of motion above and below the booth seats. Mini pizzas for $4.50 arrived for each of the boys just in time. Our table shared a Kiss My Pizza (olive oil, spinach, tomatoes, garlic and basil with two white cheeses), a calzone and spaghetti and meatballs. Easy and good. We exchanged some other early birthday and belated Father’s Day gifts and such. When does one celebration end and begin at this time of the year? All in good fun.
I took both boys home. Thinking, as a parent, that could be a real treat not to have to deliver or pick up kids to/ from a party. Calvin said his goodbyes and shifted immediately to the subject of S’mores. Yes, since there was no special treat at Fireside, we can make S’mores at home. And ten minutes later when we arrived home he shifted into yet another focused gear: Legos. Normally, Calvin would have led assembly and making of treats, but he was too busy making his new fighter jet.
So two totally different kids’ birthday celebrations this year. I prefer the few friends/outing option, I must say. And if I expand upon that revelation, that would mean today, as my birthday, would be just the time for an outing of that type. I don’t mind the hype.