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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Let Him Eat Cake

The bouncy place had no air conditioning. It was only late April, but the converted warehouses in the metal building were bordering on being oppressively hot. Big fans were set up around the place, adding to the roar of blowers keeping the slides and towers and obstacle courses and other assorted play things inflated.

Play time was now over. We were all, adults and children alike, herded into a small nondescript room mostly taken up with a long table and folding chairs for serving cake and ice cream. I found an unoccupied chair and pulled it over so that I could sit and watch Ben and Olivia at a distance where I had settled them at the other end of the table. It was fascinating to watch Ben in particular. This party was for his 4 year old cousin. Apart from her older sister and his own older sister, Ben didn’t know the kids there and he would know few of the adults. He had been a reluctant participant in the afternoon’s events, taking some coaxing to climb into or on some of the more challenging devices. He was seldom far from my side. Now here he sat, looking about at the bustle and business all around. His sister was beside him. She, ever the social butterfly, was fully engaged with as many of the other kids as possible all at the same time. He just watched. Plates came by, then plastic utensils, then paper napkins, juice boxes, then cake, and little cups of ice cream – the kind that used to come with their own flat wooden spoon. He took this progression in stride.

His hair was slightly dampened from his exertions, his cheeks reddened. He was entering that late afternoon tired phase that arrives when he gets no nap. I don’t know that he said a word. When the cake was placed before him, he began to eat it. He did the same with the ice cream. It occurred to me as I sat there that he will most likely never recall this day. Or it will fade into an indistinguishable one of many. But despite how non-eventful the day was, I think I will remember it. It became a frozen moment in the slip stream of time.

I don’t know yet who he will be. I don’t know what will happen to him. He was there, and he played and he ate cake and ice cream and took in the world around him with wonder and curiosity. He’d later fall asleep in the car on the way home, wearing the orange cap from Ruby Falls that we recovered which had been left at his aunt’s house the last time he was there.


Blogger Variations On A Theme said...

Thanks for recording this moment...especially since I couldn't be there. They are such incredible little kids. We are so lucky. Isn't it amazing how different they are? Thanks for being a dad who notices these things, ponders them, then writes about them.

12:38 PM, May 29, 2008  

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