You all know by now that I have perfected the half-assed birthday party for kids. However, after a blow-out 4th birthday party for Lyle in August, one that used up every ounce of party-planning expertise and dollar we had to our names, the idea of throwing any kind of organized fiesta for Baxter and his ever-expanding group of friends made us quiver in fear, gripping our checkbook. And when he suggested that it was going to be a Pokemon party this year, I knew something had to be done. Fast.
Enter the New Deal of birthday parties. The Next New Thing. We proposed that he invite just one friend for a full day of big kid fun on the town, things we have never done before and that only wise old 8-year olds get to do. And the most amazing thing happened: he agreed.
Now, I will admit that a few days later there were some tears. Baxter claims that I didn’t tell him this big adventure was in lieu of a big party, but that’s a simple case of not hearing what we don’t want to hear. He pulled himself together and asked, “Will there still be lots of presents on the table at breakfast from you and Daddy and Lyle on my birthday?” It’s really all about the presents, so you know what that means for our future – more presents from us and fewer parties. No problem.
The stars, moon, and planets aligned. Matt’s parents were willing to take Lyle overnight and his cousin M was willing to go with him and have a special cousins weekend, so Lyle was not focused on what he was missing at home. He had a wonderful time with his cousin. Baxter’s best friend happened to be available the day we had set aside for this, with just two weeks notice. And it all went off without a hitch.
First, we took the boys to the Signature Lounge on the 96th floor (top floor) of the John Hancock Building. Here you don’t pay for the view, just a drink and snack (or lunch, in our case). We played I Spy among the skyscrapers until our eyes glazed over. Caught up in the big kid adventure thing, I allowed Baxter to order a Pepsi with lunch for the first and last time. I haven’t seen him so hyper since he was 3 1/2.
Our next stop was the Museum of Science and Industry, a gorgeous place we had not yet seen since moving here. This is a rather pricey museum, but a good friend of mine checked her library for the Museum Pass a couple days before and was able to get one for me, so we went for free. (I told you, Chicagoans are outrageously nice.) This was great fun for all of us, and of course the hands-on nature of the exhibits made it perfect for the boys. However, Matt and I agreed that age 8 is about the minimum age to really get something out of this place, because the kids still ran from one thing to the next, trying it out without actually stopping to read what it was about or learn something from it. I can see as a destination that will be more fun as the kids get older, and might be a good place for teenagers. But we covered the whole building and it was a huge hit.
After these big outings, Matt and I were happy to head home. The kids were each handed an iPhone for the 20-minute car trips to and from downtown so that they could intensify their obsession with the new Jelly Car game. We concur that Jelly Car is pretty rad – and the music’s not half bad, either. We brought Mexican food home for dinner and the boys watched a Pokemon movie after dinner. Baxter’s bedtime was a good two hours later than usual, leaving him decidedly less hyper the following day.
Baxter was really blown away by the day he had, and we enjoyed it so much. I suspect it will be far more memorable to him than if we’d had a bunch of kids over to play Pin the Tail on Pikachu.