This week, my son Charlie turns 11. It's a rather anticlimactic birthday. It lacks the first double-digit excitement of turning 10, and it doesn't have the cache of 12. It's a bridge year. One more year of elementary school, one more year before church youth group. A non-age, really. Eleven. The most syllables he'll have until he turns seventeen, but that's really reaching for something positive.
I have to say, our family has never been one to do the big birthday parties. I lack the hostess gene, and beyond that, I could never get past the idea of spending hundreds of dollars to formalize the spending of other hundreds of dollars. The party is something we have just never done. Instead, the birthday person in our house gets to simply rule for the day. On his birthday, Charlie will get to decide where we go to dinner. And--wahoo!!--we'll all get to order beverages instead of our usual dining-out water. He'll spend the afternoon at the water park with his brothers at his beck and call to carry the tubes up the steps.
There's another reason why I avoid the big party beyond the financial concerns, though. The video here was taken during the July 4th celebration at my sister's house. This was to be the grand-finale fireworks explosion. The really really big one the boys had been eyeing all evening long. And if you take time to watch the clip, you'll see the result. Kind of a fizzle, you know? Something I could smile at clear up until you hear my Charlie say--in all of his tween indignation--"That cannot be it!" Sometimes the bigger the firework, the bigger the fizzle...
Now, just a few minutes ago, Charlie came stumbling out of bed and I told him "Happy Birthday." He lifted the cover and saw his kind of lop-sided chocolate cake with Ding-Dongs on top. "It's a 'Lego' brick!" he exclaimed, a new squeak to his voice--like it was the coolest thing in the world. Then I got a hug and a kiss. I think 11 wil be a great year after all!