Thursday, July 11, 2013
I had a bunch of errands to run this morning, including taking both the dogs to the vet for their annual health checks and yearly immunizations. All is well...except for my bank account. By the time I was finished it was too hot for the boys to stay in the car while I did the grocery shopping, so I drove back up the mountain, dropped them off, then headed back down. Any wonder I've begun chanting for an early Fall...?
So. I walk into the store, get my trolley, and as I'm digging in my purse for my list, this little voice chimes out: "Today's my burfday!" I turn my head to see this manchild looking expectantly at me, the huge grin on his face clearly showing the gap where one of his front teeth should be. There's a scattering of freckles across his nose, and a serious twinkle in his deep brown eyes. This is one truly adorable kid.
I smile at him. "Really? Today is your birthday?"
"Yep," he tells me, "and I'm seven!" He sort of puffs up a bit when he says seven, like he's almost a grown up now.
"Seven is a very good number for a birthday." He's beaming at me, glad I can appreciate his achievement.
I look around, but don't see anyone who might belong to the Birthday Boy. As I'm scanning the flower displays and lawn furniture in the area where we're standing, a couple comes in the doors and he immediately says, "Today's my burfday!" And I'm telling you, this kid's voice is so full of excitement and joy, it's totally infectious. The couple smile widely and wish him a happy birthday, then he turns back to me. I know his face is going to hurt pretty soon...those smile muscles are being stretched to capacity.
"Where's your mom, or your dad?" I ask.
He comes up close and whispers, "Mom said to stay right here cuz she has to pick up my burfday cake!"
"Ah, so it's a surprise." He nods and starts to dance from foot to foot with an overflow of energy. The bakery is at the opposite end of the store, so I figure the mom has left him sitting on one of the chairs in the lawn furniture department, no doubt with instructions not to move. Apparently she didn't factor in birthday exuberance.
Two more folks come through the doors and he repeats his mantra, the happiness never wavering as he alerts all and sundry to this monumental occasion. And amazingly, every single person stopped, smiled and wished the kid a happy birthday.
I give the boy my own wishes, then walk around the furniture and into the floral area. They have Mylar balloons behind this big counter. I find one in bright blue with red letters that says "Birthday Boy." I buy it and walk back to the entrance. The boy is pushing himself back and forth in one of the lawn swings, but still smiling for all he's worth.
There's something breathtaking about unadulterated joy, seeing the completely happy moment on the face of this child. It just melted my heart.
His eyes widen as I hand him the balloon. "There's only one time in your whole life that you turn seven years old," I say. "It's a very special day." He thanks me quietly, eyes fixed on the balloon bobbing over his head.
Then I went to the bakery. I spotted his mom right away. She had some birthday wrap and ribbons in her basket and was watching one of the bakers boxing a colorful cake.
"Scuse me." When she turned, I said, "I just gave your little boy a balloon, I hope you don't mind."
She gave me a funny look, like do I know you?
I smiled. "Your kid is totally cute. He's so excited it's his birthday, he's telling everyone who walks into the store."
Rolling her eyes, "He's been like this all morning. It's like this is the first birthday he's ever had or something."
"It's okay I gave him the balloon, though, right? Like I told your boy, you're only seven once in your life."
She looked at me for a minute, then laid a hand over mine on the trolley handle. "Did he thank you?" she asked.
"Yeah, he did."
We grinned at each other. "Add my thanks to his," she said, "and it's more than okay that you gave him a balloon."
"He's the cutest kid I've seen in a long time," I said. "I hope he always keeps a small part of being seven in his heart."
"Me too," his mom said, then the baker was ready to hand her the cake, and I meandered away into the vegetables to get on with my shopping.
By the time I left the store, my face hurt from smiling...