My oldest daughter Carson and I are friends. Yes, I am her mother, and I can make her cry on a dime if I need to lay the guilt on, but most of the time, I do not have to. Most of the time, I like being with her and we carry on conversations like friends. Today, we went birthday present shopping for the little boy she babysits. We were invited to the party not because I have been friends with his parents for almost twenty years. No. We were invited to the party because Jackson told his mom that he wanted Carson on the A-list.
Carson and I headed to Target to peruse the aisles. She knew going in that she was going to by Jackson a squirt gun. Yesterday, while babysitting he described to her the ballistic missile of squirt guns. He told her it had to have a range of at least 400 feet. He said he needed to stand by his back fence and be able to squirt over the house– the house that is over an acre away. He may be disappointed. The longest range we could find was 28 feet. I, on the other hand, was looking to theme gift. Everything has to go together. We walked around the store for over an hour while I contemplated Justice League, Angry Birds, Ninjago, or Skylanders. I like for everything to go together, so I kept picking things up and putting them away, circling from toys to clothes to home office supplies time and again.
During this process, Carson told me a story about Jackson. Yesterday, while explaining to her the squirt gun that he wanted, she asked him, “When is your actual birthday?”
“Sunday,” he said. “You’re coming to my party.”
“You’re birthday’s not Sunday; it’s tomorrow,” his brother interjected.
“No. My birthday is Sunday. That’s when my party is.”
“No. It’s tomorrow,” CJ insisted again.
“No. Dad said my birthday is Sunday,” Jackson said annoyed with his brother.
“What is your birthdate?” Carson asked.
“July 12,” he said.
“Well, that’s tomorrow. You are one day away from five!” Carson was trying to lighten the mood.
She said he looked bewildered. “That doesn’t make sense. Why would I have my party on Sunday if my birthday is tomorrow? Why don’t I just have my party tomorrow?”
By this point in the story, she was laughing hard. She understood what I sometimes feel when talking to children: bewildered yet charged by their innocence and naivety.
“Mom, I hope he is having fun today. He was really mad that his mom didn’t schedule his party on his actual birthday.”
“He’ll be fine,” I said. I tugged on her arm where she was holding the squirt gun she was purchasing. “Especially when he gets his special gift you are buying him.”
She smiled, a grown up smile: the smile that makes me proud I am her mom and happy to be her friend.