Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A Jacked-Up and Out Birthday

So Jack isn't the tallest kid in the world. Or even at the play-place. We know this because of a new friend Jack made named Ryan. "Guess what, my birthday is tomorrow!" he told us excitedly.

"No way!" Jack squealed. "It's MY birthday, too! Are you turning six like me?"

The kid glanced down at Jack. "Nope, five," he said.

Silence on Jack's end. Then, "Um, that can't be right."

Welcome to my world, son.

Thankfully, it took Jack approximately .2 seconds to forget he was shorter than a younger kid before he zoomed off to play.

Things looked up from there (no pun intended).

But first, before we ascended the colossal jungle gym, came Jack's birthday morning. Very early morning. Unable to keep away from the packages we had carted back from the post office the day before, he got up in the middle of the night and ripped open an envelope from the grandparents in much the same fashion as the subject of the book enclosed.

Because it was his birthday, Jack got away with the smallest of punishments for not asking permission before opening a present.

Next came a larger package with Spiderman web shooters and a Thomas the Tank Engine Shark Exhibit. And ever since then, he's been shooting imaginary bad guys all over base, sometimes with real webs. Sorry about that, Lt. Col. (Just kidding. That didn't actually happen, but the scenario has flitted through my mind more than once, leading to some strict limits of the shooter's use).

Of course, Jack's birthday could never be complete without a trip to Jumppin' Jacks Funhouse (mispelling theirs, to my chagrin). Similar to NW Kids' Club back home, Jumppin' Jacks was a madhouse of movement and mayhem.

Yes, that is Jack and Jude attached to a barber pole on crack.
Thankfully, Avinly was perfectly content to chill in the toddler area -- no horizontal movement needed.

One of the fun aspects of living in Britain is the many small, unexpected changes to normal, everyday events and objects. The UK puts its own unique twist on everything, it seems. Nearly every day Nick and I point out something new to each other, "Hey, did you see that....?" Case-in-point below. Even their Little Tykes Grand Coupes are British-ized.

Avinly just enjoyed her British hound.

After Jumppin' Jacks came dinner. We were planning on hitting up a Italian ristorante, but it was gone. In its place, as luck would have it, was an American steakhouse called Cadillac Jack's. We figured it was a Jack sort of day, so why not?

George Strait was crooning "Heartland" as we walked in. (Sing a song about the Heartland/The only place I feel at home). There was a sign on the wall showing a shot pistol with the words, "We don't call 911." (The UK doesn't allow handgun ownership, and it's emergency number is 999). I felt like laughing and crying simultaneously -- I mean, it had been nearly two weeks since I had heard country music! -- but I did neither.

Over cheeseburgers, Jack Skyped with his best friend Lucy, the two of them comparing their missing teeth. And toward the last few bites of ice cream, I announced that we would all go around the table and say what our favorite thing about Jack was (strangely enough, Avinly followed Thumper's advice).

Jude, Nick and I all said how much we loved him, what a bright mind he has, how kind he is, what a good boy he can be. We were completely speaking his love language. After Jude finished, I was getting ready to gather the troops and head for home.

But Jack wasn't done. "Wait!" he announced. "Isn't it my turn?"

"To do what?" we asked.

"To say something nice about me!"

Oh, goodness gracious. Go for it, kid.

He sighed in complete enjoyment of the moment. "My favorite thing about me is how incredibly smart I am," he said. "I just learn things so fast!"

Yes, like humility...and the ability to completely throw your mom and dad off-balance.