"What list, baby?" I ask as I plate their Leprechaun Burritos with Blueberry Sauce.
"My birthday wish list," she says, very intuitively choking down the "Duh!"
with Blueberry Sauce
"You DO realize your birthday is tomorrow already, right?" I say. "And you also realize that your Mommy and I are NOT Santa Claus, right?" (Just go with me on this one.) "And nevermind for the moment that you should already know that you just don't ever ask for a specific gift."
And I could see the dreaded "why" beginning to shape on her lips.
"You just don't!" I preempted. "It's just not polite. And you should always be grateful for whatever you already have."
So then the bugging started up again. The same 3 questions they've been badgering me with all week, ever since I set myself up for it completely by dropping that teaser out there that we'd be doing something special on Wednesday if they could keep all their fingers and toes inside the ride til then.
But I am a rock. I tell them nothing. And they whine and huff and puff all the way to school. When I pick them up at noon (short day today), man, were they ever RARING to go. Like...really really raring.
Every two bites or so, they asked where we were going, and made some pretty good guesses. But, let's face it, people, I'm the Mama. There was no breaking me on this one!
Off to the frozen yogurt shop for healthy yummy goodness.
And then...finally...finally...SURPRISE!...we walked over to the movie theatre right next door. And they both immediately scowled.
"A movie???" they said in unison. "How is that special?" (Spoiled rotten ungrateful little monsters.)
|Frozen Yogurt Heaven|
And...oh, my God...it is absolutely my new favorite theatre. Plush, oversize sofas and rocking seats. And as we were leaving, I think I even saw a sign outside the attached lux lounge that said you could take your drinks into certain theatres. Internal woohoo moment. New Orleans flashbacks. Filed way for later. Kiddos in tow today.
But then, as if it wasn't awesome enough already, we had the balcony ALL. TO. OURSELVES. (Which, of course, they thought I'd arranged special -- and no, you just don't argue those things -- it's not polite. Or something.)
So the movie begins. It's immediately scary and a little violent, in the way that real life animal documentaries tend to be. But what makes it more difficult to digest for the kiddos is that there is a really enthralling storyline, and we're following the unbelievable tale of this one mother lioness. It gets a little graphic and gruesome, and there's a TON of heartbreak -- so much so, in fact, that at one point he unburied his head from beneath my arm to tell me that this was NOT a great birthday gift. After which, we were graced with a close-up of a bloody nostril chunk hanging off the face of an embattled water buffalo.
So, it's not like their reactions were completely uncalled for. I cried, and shuttered, and gasped quite a bit, too. But what it did mean was that I would have to go into hyperexplanation mode quick, fast, and in a hurry.
Because our kids, if you happen to be new to the blog, are mega-talkers. TALKers. And with movies, especially, as every single moment MUST be dissected, every motivation explored, every possible alternative discussed. Right there. In that moment.
No, I don't know where they get that from either.
And so it got emotional, and a little loud. And I'm sure I wasn't the only one in the theatre who was grateful we'd chosen the mid-week 2pm show.
|You, too, can text|
LIONS to 50555 to
donate $10 to help
save the lions
"SAVE THE LIONS, MAMA!!!" they squealed.
Which, of course, I did. At which point, their sad and frightened faces transformed into nothing but teeth. Smiles and hugs and thank-yous.
I mean, come on, people, I'd only just emotionally tortured my children for an hour-and-a-half in the hopes they would understand a little more about what it means to be so blessed and so loved and so protected. The least I could do was donate 10 bucks to save the lions in exchange for such a traumatic lesson in gratitude.
And as we walked back to the parking garage, arm in arm in arm, still talking about the movie and what a great afternoon we've had, I suddenly realize how tall they are. How easily they can slip their little arms through mine now. How I don't have to strain my C1 and C2 just to look down at them anymore. How, any day now, they'll be taller than me, not clinging to my arm, and walking in the other direction. How much they fill me with joy and heartache, with hope and frustration, with more than I ever could've imagined, and still somehow less than I'll receive tomorrow. And I feel myself stand a little taller, my gait lengthening, my strides purposeful and strong. And I imagine what I wouldn't do, what I wouldn't give, what I wouldn't be for my little cubs, too.
That night, as I tucked them in, I told them the story of the night before they were born. "This exact time, eight years ago..."
And curled up beside me, eyes all wide, cheeks all aglow, the only thing that mattered to them in that moment, was that today, Mama saved the lions.