Tag Archives | pre-teen

Birthday War Games

For a long time, when my kids were little, I refused to outsource the birthday party: I made a cake, invited the kids over, maybe used the “community space” in our building for games of some kind or another.  The year that Liam turned four, when Caleb was still less than three months old, I decided it would be a good idea to host Liam’s entire nursery-school class (about 17 kids) –and their parents — to our apartment. We’d do a craft, I figure, and eat pizza, and really how hard could it be?

I still have nightmares. And the craft-related glitter stayed in my rug for years afterwards. If my sister hadn’t been there to help, I would probably have locked myself in a closet with baby Caleb slung across my chest in his sling.

Eventually, though, as the kids got bigger, our apartment seemed smaller and smaller, until outsourcing became inevitable.  Plus, because Liam’s birthday is in November, one of those “let’s meet in the park and play” type birthdays won’t work – at least not in Manhattan.

The first year we lived in Abu Dhabi, Liam was able to have a beach party, which seemed remarkable at the time, but now, as is the way of things, has faded into just a fact of life.

Also our first year here, Liam was invited to a paintball party. You know, get a gun, fill it with plastic pellets and try to “kill” your opponents.

Despite being the kind of boy who never got enthralled by guns (no nerf, no pow-pow-pow with pointed finger; the kid doesn’t even much like super-heroes), Liam looooves paintball.

Every birthday he’d ask if he could have a paintball party, and every year we resisted and deflected and demurred.

But for turning thirteen, we relented. Not sure why—maybe because it’s a “big” birthday? Maybe because if we were Jewish or Zoroastrian or even Catholic, he would be having some kind of ritual ceremony to mark crossing the threshold into … adulthood? That seems a bit of a stretch. How ’bout crossing the threshold into the you-can-do-your-own-laundry-now hood? That seems worth celebrating, don’t you think?

And thus I found myself last weekend with a veritable herd of barely teen-aged boys at a big sporting complex that hosts paintball parties.

forsanthey look like such nice boys, don’t they?

Because really, what better way to cement your friendships than with elaborate paramilitary exercises?

Here’s hoping these battles were just games and not a metaphor for the next few years. Because as metaphors go, I’m not liking the looks of things:

masks

 

Continue Reading · on November 25, 2013 in Abu Dhabi, family, growing up, Kids, NaBloPoMo, Parenting, pop culture

if this is how a twelve year old gives compliments, how will he do insults?

Yesterday around dinner time, I asked Liam if he wanted chicken in a tortilla or just plain chicken with rice (I know, what a dazzling array of options. Don’t tell Ina Garten; she’d just feel threatened).

Liam, sprawled on his bed in his fuzzy bathrobe, surfaced out of the book he’s reading (The Name of the Wind, which is apparently the Best Book Ever in the History of Words).

“You know, mommy,” he said, bleary eyed from reading, “lots of families get take-out, like, all the time. But you…You just…take a little of this and a little of that and then the next thing you know you’ve made chicken tacos like from Dos Toros. I mean, I never could’ve imagined, Dos Toros tacos, here, in Abu Dhabi. You’re amazing.”

Dos Toros, for those of you not lucky enough to live in Manhattan, is a stupendously good taqueria that used to be around the corner from our apartment.  They do real cooking.  Me? I put chicken in a pan with some magic dust (Blue Smoke’s magic dust), slap the chicken bits into a corn tortilla with some Mexican rice from the marvelous Maria. No cheese, no sauce, no guac, no tomato, no beans. Dry as hell but the kid thinks it’s some kind of haute gourment special, so who I am to disabuse him?

Perhaps fueled by his love for chicken tacos, the twelve-year old flung his arms around me. “You’re just so great and nice and helpful, and you find me great books–or your students suggest great books–and you help me with thinking and ideas and everything and I just love you! You’re such a helper! You’re so good at so much and help me with everything.”

I am basking. My pre-teen son, gushing about how much he loves me? Oh be still my beating heart.

There is a long pause. Liam keeps his arms around me, then looks up.

“I mean, except in math. You can’t really do anything in math that’s useful to me. I mean, in math you just really have to, you know, how to do it. And you just, I mean, you just don’t.  When will dinner be ready?”  He picks up his book and dives back into the story.

From the heights of glory, I am cast down to the valleys.

I shuffle into the kitchen to make the tacos, wondering who will help me count out how many tortillas I need.

 

 

 

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Continue Reading · on March 3, 2013 in Books, family, food, growing up, Kids, Parenting

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