The Uphill Slide

There is always something.

Lessons

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Lesson One: Learn to Swim

Swim lessons—now! We took Caleb to Presque Isle State Park for his third birthday. He has no fear of water or the advancing waves that can take him down. He wants to roll up and down with them. He is not afraid to put his head under water. Tense, we returned to the motel pool without ebb and flow. He jumped from the steps turning away from our outstretched arms and bobbed under as we grabbed his arm. Screamed as we wrapped in towels to return to the room. Locked the door and put on the chain so he couldn’t escape. Swim lessons—now!

Lesson Two: Expectations

Are we going to my birthday? Caleb asked. It is your birthday, honey. Presents. A trip to the beach. Chocolate milk. Pizza. Everything is for you. He asked again the next day, “Are we going to my birthday?”

“Yes. We’re having your party at the apartment when we get home.”

Party City:   TMNT plates and masks and maracas with super heroes pasted on them. Rainbow hats and candles burning with blue and green flames. Tattoos. A small Spider-Man helium balloon and a larger blue dolphin that flattened when the string caught in the fan blades.

DQ:  A frozen cake to host four candles (three years old with one to grow on) for our party of four.

Sometime in the year between two and three, Caleb developed expectations for a birthday. How did it happen? Going to other kids’ parties? Television? Did we satisfy his expectations? He seemed happy with our party. His birthday celebration lasted three days.

A relative’s first birthday party was at age 80. I had birthday parties at age five and six. I remember them from photographs of neighborhood kids sitting around our dining room table with pointy party hats eating cake and drinking Kool-Aid. Later, “Happy Birthday” first thing in the morning. A card and a gift. Years later, my kids had parties every year until about end of middle school. It was homemade food and cake. The guests were relatives and friends with kids. In elementary grades a party with classmates a few times. McDonald’s. Chuck E. Cheese. Only a few kids. Later there were restaurant meals to celebrate. If my kids expected more or were disappointed, they never told me. Caleb will have unfulfilled expectations someday, but not this year.

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