Posted on Sunday, September 04, 2005

Big Happenings Next Week...

The only thing that’s making the thought of returning to school bearable for Herbie is that he has a birthday coming up that same week. I’m sure he will again be the oldest (not to mention largest and tallest) in his class. And, if last year was any indication, he’ll probably be the first to be suspended and to establish a long-term relationship with the new school principal. I learned to hate caller I.D. last year. Every time I saw that it was the school calling, I knew it wasn’t going to be good news. Either it was going to be a call about Peaches having a tickle in the back of her throat (Peaches, a fledgling hypochondriac, had a frequent flier account with the school nurse) or yet another call about Herbie and the poetically detailed death threats he would sometimes make against students and staff alike. No one ever seemed to be comforted by my assurances that he was merely speaking metaphorically on these occasions. School administrators are so damn literal. Fuck ‘em if they can’t take a joke, that’s what I always say. (Well, actually I don’t, but this may be my year!)

So, anyway, we are trying to disregard the fact that school is about to start up again and instead concentrate on the upcoming birthday. We are Playmobil people in a big way (you know just how big if you read yesterday’s entry); they have great toys in enough themes to satisfy any child: pirates, astronauts, dinosaurs. Peaches has a collection of farm and zoo sets. Herbie has a castle populated by three-inch-high knights armed with every manner of tiny plastic weaponry and armor. These Playmobil sets occupy a lot of acreage on our living room carpet, but I try to be patient as I vacuum around them. In Herbie’s case, his Playmobil castle is about the only thing he’ll play with that doesn’t come with a video monitor and joystick. When his friend Jack comes over, they can spend actual hours mustering their competing armies and fighting battles for control of the kingdom. It can get quite violent and bloody (at least in an imaginary way), but at least they are acting out plots borne of their own twisted little-boy imaginations rather than those presented to them on some computer screen.

I ordered a big Playmobil shipment for Herbie’s upcoming birthday. It’s expensive stuff, but you have to understand that in the past, Herbie’s birthday and Christmas requests included only items that any sane parents would try to exclude from their child’s life. Bowie knives, paintball guns, bear spray—things like that. Unless it was the sort of thing that would get you arrested if you tried to take it through airport security, Herb just wasn’t interested. I’m willing to pay for over-priced Playmobil toys if I can use them to direct his energy in more constructive directions.

One of the things I ordered was a set of furniture designed for one of the Playmobil doll houses. We don’t have a doll house, but Peaches has been complaining about the lack of furniture in her farmhouse. And, although Herb would never think to complain about such a thing, I’ve been thinking the castle’s residence should be furnished too. So I’ve started to sneak in a couple of things overnight for the kids to discover in these days leading up to the birthday. Little couches and bookcases are starting to appear in rooms that had been starkly empty before. I, of course, lie about knowing where these items came from, suggesting we must have mice that are dragging these things out of their holes when they prove to be inedible. Herbie is searching our baseboards in the mad hope of finding the mice’s hide-out. Peaches, older now, gives me these appraising looks that suggest she has a good idea that I’m probably involved somehow.

I love finding ways to give my kids unexpected gifts—tucking little toys in among the old ones to be found later and wondered over. As far as I’m concerned, it beats wrapping up a gift and adding it to a pile under a Christmas tree where it will be opened and discarded before the end of the day.

One of the favorite traditions I’ve established with my kids is the Book Fairy. Instead of buying my kids books and handing them out in the car (as we often do), occasionally, the Book Fairy will leave a new book on their beds to be discovered when they wake up in the morning. Those books become immediately elevated to an enchanted level that they would never achieve if I merely presented them to the kids saying, “Here, I got this for you today.”

The Book Fairy will definitely be showing up with a delivery for Herb’s birthday next week. Maybe she’ll be able to make the whole idea of reading a bit more appealing to him—just in time for school.

7 Response to " "

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Dave Says:

Congratulations, you have some spam post. I guess, like me, you'll be moving to passwords and biometric control soon.

Danger Panda Says:

Oh dear. I hope it doesn't come to that. But it might...

surly girl Says:

we have a toast mouse here at surly towers....whenever toast is for breakfast a corner is always nibbled. i love that small person believes this (or not - it's entirely possible that she's just humouring me), and i loved this post. it made me smile on a very dark day. thank you.

Jona Says:

That's a lovely way to 'treat' them! I'm notouriously mean with my lot but just gave in at the supermarket and bought Scooby Doo 2 at an end of summer hollidays gift.

We're all giong soft ;o)

OldHorsetailSnake Says:

The secret/surprise gifts is a great idea. On reflection, I wish I had thought of it when my kids were little. Everybody loves neat surprises.

Kelly Says:

The Book Fairy is a terribly wicked idea. As in, wonderful!

If there are kids in my future, they will most certainly be visited by The Book Fairy!

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