1. That time she decided beds were for suckers.
This has come around WAY too soon for me. It’s May first AGAIN. Another year has passed, and it’s time for me to remember that day that I lay prostrate in a hospital bed, doped up on Morphine, and listened to a high-risk OB/GYN explain with remarkable calmness that 33 weeks or not, this baby was coming today.
Ben-Magoo, I simply refuse to believe that you are now SEVEN. YEARS. OLD. It simply isn’t possible. I forbid it. You must stay my baby forever. I know, I know…you SAY that you’ll always be my teeny baby, and you’ll ALWAYS want mommy cuddles, and you’ll ALWAYS be my same silly Ben-Magoo, but SEVEN? You’re practically a teenager. I mean, just look at your hair! Teenager hair, that is.
And listen to you talk – teenager talk, that…no, scratch that. You talk like a grown-up with a post-graduate degree. Ben-Magoo, you asked me some questions this morning, and I think I did a pretty good job of answering them, so I’m going to write down what I can remember here to make sure you can re-read it any time you want to.
We started out talking about your birthday presents – You got a few presents this morning that I picked up yesterday at the Royal Botanical Gardens – some pretty cool bug books, one from the grown-up section, because most of the kids books were just way too, as Molly put it, “kiddy” for you. You were a little disappointed that you didn’t get any ocean books, but I explained that right now you seem really focused on your Bug Clinic.
Just in case you’re reading this years from now and can’t remember, let me remind you about your Bug Clinic. Last year at daycamp, you and your friends noticed that there were a lot of caterpillars around and you wanted to do something for them, so you created a bug hospital at the base of a tree. You carefully brought any injured caterpillars you found there, and you collected a stockpile of carefully peeled maple seeds for caterpillar food.
I figured the end of the summer would mean the end of the Bug Clinic, but it turned out that friend from daycamp was in your class at your new school and you revived the Bug Clinic at school in the fall. You now have an army of “doctors” on your roster and you run a pretty tight ship, assigning them jobs, scheduling shifts, and of course protecting the clinic from the other team, the Bug Clinic Destroyers. You have quite a lot on your to-do list – literally – but you’re fully committed to it. In fact, when I said that you sure had a lot to do, you explained patiently, “I know, mommy. But that’s what you have to when you’re the boss.”
What’s even cooler, Magoo, and I don’t think you realize that you do this, is how huge your heart is. You don’t just accept everyone who comes along – you find ways to bring people together.
When some of your friends were more interested in playing Minecraft than Bug Clinic, you invited them to make a Minecraft tower on the top floor. When we had that incident a couple of weeks ago where another student made a poor choice and deliberately threw away the special piece of coral you brought to school, and later offered to work at your Bug Clinic to make up for it, you not only accepted her offer, you named her the “First Prize Winner” at your latest Bug Clinic Award Ceremony.
I mean, there’s forgiveness, and then there’s what you did. You have so much goodness in you that you respond to a deliberate injury by simply loving MORE. I think there’s a lesson in there for all of us.
You’ve been telling me that the Bug Clinic is a secret, but this morning you changed your mind and said it was okay for me to talk about it, and I’m really glad because I want to share it with the world. If more six…no, SEVEN year-olds were as dedicated as you are to caring for the very tiniest of creatures on this earth, how amazing would your generation become?
Getting back to the bit about the birthday presents – you loved your bug books, but you did mention in the car, “I wish I had a whole LIBRARY of ocean books!” And then you paused thoughtfully for a minute, and then you asked me, “Mommy? Why am I so different from other kids? Why am I into things like biology and stuff, and not just superheros and toys?”
Magoo, every once in a while you and me have these really profound talks, and this was one of them.
I said that there are a lot of reasons. There’s the ordinary reasons: We tried to expose you to lots of different playthings and experiences, not just superhero toys and sports. Honestly, you never had much interest in any of the sports we tried (“Except skiing! I really like skiing!” you point out), so we weren’t going to force it, as long as you’re active and healthy. And whatever toys you played with, you created your own worlds with them instead of being stuck “in the box” playing with them exactly the way they were intended. Just think about Brio Peak – Your track-building adventures rose (again, literally) to new heights, and led to your first published book!
Likewise, you don’t watch the typical TV shows for your age and gender, and I’m actually pretty happy about that. We’ve talked about this before, but with your innate kindness, and your tendency to be a bit anxious, you don’t like shows or movies with shooting and meanness, even if they do have happy endings. You just don’t enjoy watching them, and that’s okay. You get a little frustrated with your friends sometimes when they tell you the shows you like to watch are babyish, but you never fail to remind them “That’s a STEREOTYPE.” I do get a little sad because I know you censor yourself and don’t talk about those shows at school so you don’t get teased, but that of course is not a problem with you but with the world, and it’s not your job to fix it!
And I think daddy and I are doing an okay job at this parenting gig, because we try pretty hard to encourage you and Molly when you find something that you are interested in, like when you started to be interested in ocean creatures…
You interrupted me here to say, “It was when we were watching the life cycle DVD about the dolphin and the shark and you got the Eugenie Clark book and read it to me! THAT’S when I started loving ocean creatures!” and I’m pretty sure you just wrote the first sentence in your autobiography.
Well, that got me thinking and talking about the not-so-ordinary reasons. Eugenie Clark started being interested in natural science and ichthyology when she was very young, just like you, and I think you’ll find that the same is true of many scientists and leaders in their fields. People who have a passion for something often came to that passion very early in life, and many of them were lucky enough to be encouraged in that passion from early on. So you might be different from the other kids because God has a plan for you to do something really special – like to become a marine biologist or entomologist – or even something else.
One of the things that is really, really cool about you, Magoo, is that you don’t just get excited about things yourself – you have an incredible gift for getting other people excited too. Just look at your Bug Clinic – even though most of your friends are more interested in the usual stuff, you have somehow managed to get them totally excited about the Bug Clinic. When you started drawing ocean creatures, all of your friends did the same thing and for weeks you came home with your backpack stuffed with drawings of sea life – “To Ben, From _____.” Maybe you’re going to wind up using that gift to make a difference by getting people excited about learning or about conservation.
That, of course, led to a conversation about conservation (say that 5 times fast!) and a decision to write a letter to your principal outlining ideas for improving your school’s Enviro Club (“All we ever do is collect the recycling bags from the classrooms and dump them in the bins!”). Oh, and you remembered that you’d better get started with your letter-writing campaign to Marineland. And I promised to tell you about Craig Kielberger later. I guess Free The Children will be next on our reading list.
As we walked from the parking lot into your school, Magoo, you pointed at yourself, grinned at me, and said, “This kid is more like a grown-up than a kid,” and then ran inside to show off your birthday cupcakes.
I’ll have to meet you halfway on that, my baby Ben Magoo.
Once upon a time, in a far away land, lived a beautiful young woman, her handsome husband, and their spirited 2 year-old son. They lived a humble and unassuming life and were happy together, just the three of them, but they all harboured a secret desire to welcome one more child to their family.
They wished and wished, and faced many trials along the way, but at long last, that wish was granted, and the couple told their precocious son that the mommy had a baby growing in her tummy. He was delighted and declared, “It’s going to be a turtle, and I’m going to name it Dora!”
After the longest pregnancy the woman had ever experienced (literally, since the aforementioned little boy made his appearance rather earlier than expected), the big day finally came. The expectant couple dropped the little boy off with his grandparents, packed their bags, and headed off bright and early to…
After a calming meander through the furniture-filled halls and a quick bite of breakfast for the father-to-be, they made their way to the hospital where they celebrated International Women’s Day 2010 by welcoming the future first female benevolent dictator of the world.
On meeting her several hours later, her brother quickly got over his disappointment at her lack of turtle-ness and accepted his parents’ over-ruling of his name choice in favour of Molly Elizabeth…
…and the rest, as they say, is history — or at least it will be once she makes it!
(Oh, right — as for the titular Princesuccessful Day of Princexcess…) Boy, oh boy — Let a doting father of a princess-obsessed birthday girl loose in a bedding store, and the results are…well…
Perhaps it could be best expressed as a word problem:
If Train 1, carrying a load of cotton candy, leaves Station A at 10:30 AM traveling 100 km/h, and Train 2, carrying a load of Bazooka Joe bubble gum, leaves Station B at 10:45 AM traveling 115 km/h, and they arrive at the junction at the same time and collide with a tanker filled with Crush brand Cream Soda and a truck loaded with costumes for a preschool ballet recital, just exactly HOW pink will the resulting explosion be?
Or a tongue-twister:
How much pink could a pink thing pink if a pink think could pink pink?
Or a haiku:
Spring breeze wafts cherry blossoms
Soft scent fills the air
The perfume suggests a hue.
I give you: Princess Molly’s Royal Bedroom
Anyway, my Molly Monkey, five International Women’s Days have now come and gone in your life, and you have grown up into a headstrong, self-aware, independent, gutsy, and all-around fantastic four year-old with those excellent leadership qualities that your paediatrician predicted in your first year.
I know that you will grow up to do anything you want to do, and mommy, daddy, and Ben and all the rest of your family and friends will be there to support you and cheer you on, whether it’s fulfilling your dream of becoming a princess geologist, or traveling the world to watch you compete at the elite level of the winter sport you plan to invent, “Skeleton but then you slide down a huge, huge jump and fly way up in the air and do flips and somersaults!!”
Actually, y’know what – let’s stick to world domination. It’s probably safer.
Oh, my Ben-Magoo…what can I say? You have been full of surprises literally* since the day you were born! I can’t post a pregnant belly picture of you because I don’t have any. I was so busy with school and daddy with his new job that we hadn’t gotten around to taking an artsy belly picture when you decided to make your surprise appearance at only 33 1/2 weeks.
You got it in your teeny head that you were ready to be born and there was no stopping you! I was scared at the time but I should have known you had it all under control. They told us that preemies usually have breathing problems – not you! They told us that preemies usually stay in the hospital until their due date – but you made sure you were home in time for my first Mothers’ Day!
Have I told you before how smart you are? I know all moms think “My kid is so smart!” but my Magoo, your intellect continues to astound me. I haven’t been able to win an argument with you since…well, since you learned to talk…and ever since you started moving around you’ve been building and creating amazing structures – first “simple” towers and now extensive multi-level train tracks like Brio Peak.
You have what your Uncle Chris calls “the knack,” and not only that, you have the single-minded drive, when you come up with an idea, to keep working at it until you see it through. You can get frustrated when things don’t go the way you envisioned though, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. Sometimes all it takes is a different perspective or a second pair of hands to finish the job, and asking for help is just a way of effectively problem-solving.
You are so kind and loving, my Magoo. We had a bit of a rough patch there for a while after Molly was born. There were times when I got really frustrated yelled too much, and I know that I hurt your feelings and made you sad sometimes, and you still loved me more than anything. But just like I said, asking for help is a way of problem-solving, and knowing how much you loved me gave me the strength to do that. Do you know what else? Me being able to talk about that hard time has given lots of other people the courage to do the same thing, and that’s all thanks to you!
I bet you didn’t know this, Magoo, but there are some kids who are unhappy or mad when a new baby comes home because they have to share their mommies or daddies. I don’t think that ever even crossed your mind, though, because you have loved Molly more than anything since the moment you first saw her.
I don’t know if I’ve seen you so sad as the day I told you you couldn’t marry her because she’s your sister! And boy, does she ever look up to you. She thinks that you are just the coolest person ever, and I think she believes you could do absolutely anything.
I know that now that’s she’s getting older there are times when she gets on your nerves, but even when you two fight you work it out together and go right back to being best friends. I hope you two keep on appreciating and loving each other as much as you do now, even when you grow up.
Ben-Magoo, one of the most wonderful things about you is your integrity. I will never, ever forget when you knocked over a pile of socks that Molly had folded, and I said, “Don’t tell Molly you knocked those over because she’ll be sad.” She overheard me and said, “Did Ben knock over my socks?” and I said, “No, monkey, I put them in the laundry basket.” You leaped up and said, “Oh Molly, I did knock them over! I’m so sorry! It was an accident. I’m really, really sorry,” and Molly said, “That’s okay, Ben.”
Then you looked me in the eye and said, “Mommy, you shouldn’t have told that lie.” You know what, Bud? You were absolutely right. It it always better to take responsibility for your actions and face the consequences then to tell a lie to get out of trouble, and you were right to remind me of that.
We had something sad happen in our family this year, didn’t we, Bud? Our Papa, your great-grandfather, died. You were so very special to Papa because you were his very first great-grandchild. The first time he held you in the hospital, he looked at me, his face aglow, and said, “Can you believe that I actually have a great-grandson?
Papa was very special to you, too. It must have been hard wrapping your head around the fact that you were never going to see him again, but you thought about it asked the questions that you needed to to understand, and sometimes I think that you understand better than us grown-ups – Like when you said, “Chris and Caitie are sad because Papa isn’t going to be at their wedding. But really he is going to be there with us, isn’t he?” and when at Christmas you said, “This Christmas our family just isn’t the same, is it, because Papa died.”
You also have real gift for creativity, Magoo. You and daddy share a special bond with your love of photography. (I know, I know, you don’t have that camera any more. You figured out pretty quickly that kid cameras just couldn’t capture the shots that you wanted and you took over mommy’s!)
You and daddy definitely share that photographer’s eye. I don’t think there are many people who could guess which of you took which of these pictures!
(Your artistic shots are great, of course, but my favourites are your self-portraits!)
And your creativity and ambition don’t stop with just photography. How many other just-turned-6-year-olds can say that they are published authors?
So, my favourite Ben-Magoo, keep on being your super-cool self, just like you have been from the day you were born, even if people tell you it’s wrong. (Except mommy. If mommy tells you you’re doing something wrong, you’d better listen. Because I’m mommy, that’s why.)
Happy 6th Birthday, our favourite guy!
~ Love, Mommy, Daddy, and Molly
Things got a little crazy around Molly’s birthday this year, what with March Break and my mom’s broken hip and all that jazz, so we didn’t manage to plan Molly’s birthday party until a month after her actual birthday. (Poor second-born children, always getting the shaft…)
I had glanced at the Crock-A-Doodle pottery-painting website a while ago and put it on the back burner, thinking, “Probably better for an older group,” but then went back to it and decided to give it a shot – Best. Decision. Ever.
A birthday party at Crock-A-Doodle includes use of the party room for 1.5 hours, 1 piece of pottery for each guest to paint,
a tile decorated with the birthday child’s handprint and guests’ thumbprints, staff to organize everything and instruct the children (In fact, for older kids, they require the grown-ups to leave – “No, no, we insist! You MUST go and have a coffee and leave the chaos to us!”), and crayons and colouring sheets for children who finish their pieces early.
The paint is all washable and non-toxic.
Once everyone is finished painting, you use the rest of the time for food and cake.
Package pricing is based on 8 participants – if you invite more guests, you pay for each extra piece and if you have fewer, you receive the balance on a gift card.
Once your party is finished, the pieces are labeled with the children’s names, glazed and kiln-fired to a glossy, food-safe finish, packaged, and ready for pick-up in a week to deliver to your guests as a “loot bag” that will last forever!
The kids all had a great time and made some really lovely artwork. The time flew by – there was just enough time for painting that the kids (aged 3-6) didn’t get bored or frustrated, and then time afterwards for some snacks and cake.
The staff were attentive and knowledgeable and kept things moving along. They were able to gauge the kids’ abilities and let the younger children do their thing while giving the older kids (and parents) tips like how to make polka-dots (you use the wooden end of the paintbrush, FYI). The handprint tile was a great birthday souvenir for our family.
The whole Crock-A-Doodle party concept was a great fit for us. It was a perfect party for Molly, who loves doing any type of craft, as do most of her friends. For the last few years I’ve been trying to stay away from “treat bags” with lots of little things in them, so the idea that the item they painted became each guest’s take-home treat suited me to a T, and as an incentive to return Crock-A-Doodle throws in a $5 gift-card for each guest.
Finally, the recyclable tissue paper and paper bags within a reusable shopping bag that everything was packaged in was the sustainable icing on the cake!
The cake, by the way, was from Sobeys, which was also a great choice: The cake and icing are yummy, prices are very reasonable, and the bakery only requires 24 hours’ notice. Molly requested pink and purple princess cupcakes, and as you can see, we got exactly that!
In sum, I would be all fired up to do another birthday party at Crock-A-Doodle – You might say Crock-A-Doodle is kiln it with this birthday party thing. All in all, Molly was pretty happy with her 3rd birthday party, and that was the most important part!
Do you do birthday parties? What has been your favourite idea?
Time sure flies, eh? Four International Women’s Days ago, I went from this:
…and now suddenly, somehow, you’re turning 3! Really – 3, even though I know you sometimes fudge the truth a little. I’ve heard you tell other kids that you’re 4 or 6, and you say it with such conviction that despite all evidence to the contrary, they actually believe you. Because really, who wouldn’t believe this face?
I think it’s fitting that you were born on March 8, the day that we celebrate the achievements of women around the world as well as remind the world how far we still have to go. You are well on your way to becoming a strong-minded and empowered woman and I sure hope the world will be ready for you by then, whatever you decide to do or be!
As it is, by your 3rd birthday, I’ve already experienced your single-minded determination – like last summer, when you refused to wear anything that didn’t match, which meant that you left the house every day dressed from head to toe in pink (except for the one day a week that you wore your green outfit).
Or all those nights you decided that instead of going to sleep when you were tucked into your nice warm bed, you would read some books, rearrange your furniture, and make a couple of wardrobe changes before falling asleep in your favourite pink dance outfit and tights. (Thanks for that, by the way. I enjoyed that middle-of-the-night strip-off-your-leotard-and-tights-to-put-your-diaper-back-on-fiasco. We’ll call it mommy and Molly bonding time.)
Yes, my funny bum, you may look cute, but your impulsiveness may one day get you into real trouble. Take this morning, for instance, when you were downstairs making a craft and I heard Ben say, “Molly! You’re not supposed to do that with TOYS! You have to go show mommy!” and then you came upstairs, seemingly abashed (although I could still see that gleam in your eye) as you showed me what you had done.
We will have to keep working on the principle of “look before you leap.” At least we know that Ben has always got your back. He loves you SOOO much – and I know you love him too!
I love hiding around the corner and listening to the two of you play together. You can play and chatter for hours, and even if you sometimes disagree, your arguments blow over as quickly as they started with both of you apologizing and working out a solution together.
I should probably apologize in advance for the nicknames you’re going to endure as you grow up. It started out so innocuous, with “Molly-Moo” and then “Monkey,” which you quickly grew to answer to more consistently than your given name…then it devolved to “Monkey-Bum,” even given your Auntie Caitie’s dire warning that It. Would. Stick. After that came “Munkin” (I have no explanation…it’s kind of a combo of “Monkey,” “Munchkin,” and “Pumpkin” that slipped out one day…), “Munkin-Bum,” “Molly-Magoo,” “Funny-Bum,” “Silly-Munkin,” and I’m sure a multitude of others that have slipped my mind right now but will be equally traumatizing when they slip out in front of your middle school friends. I apologize in advance for being that mom.
So, as you move on to the wild world of 3 years old, whether you’re getting your hands dirty…
…or keeping them clean…
…just make sure you keep on being your awesome self, even if that means sometimes being a square peg in a round hole.
Dance to the beat of your own drummer…
…show the world that there are two sides to every story…
…and when life gives you pepperoni sticks, lie down on placemats and eat them on the floor!
Mommy, daddy and Ben love you millions and millions and millions, our favourite Molly-Moo! To quote your favourite song, “Molly is my favourite monkey, favourite monkey, favourite monkey! Molly is my favourite monkey – She says, ‘Ooo-ooo, ah-ah!” We hope you have a very, very happy 3rd birthday and that you are always as happy as you are today!