On Turning 10, Gracefully

Zane is turning 10 in a sleeping bag, whispering loudly and laughing with classmates. He wanted a birthday party, something we have unintentionally avoided over the years, choosing instead to time family trips and fun events to his mark upon the calendar, but 10 is a big deal and big deals are special. Big deals get a party.

“I want a party with some classmates,” he said.

We asked him what he wanted to do and where he wanted to go, listing all of the options he had been quick to appreciate while attending the parties of others.

“I just want to have a sleepover,” he said. “We can have a taco bar, just make sure you get non-diary stuff because A— has an allergy. If we get a vegan cake that will be good, too.”

And so he invited a few kids from class to his sleepover and taco bar extravaganza.

“What kind of decorations would you like?” we asked.

“I don’t want any decorations,” he said. “I just want to play, and then we can watch some movies.”

“What kind of gifts do you want?” asked his friends.

“You don’t need to bring any presents,” he told them. “If you want to spend money you should donate it to a charity that helps animals. That would be a good gift.”

“Who the hell are you?” we said.

But not really.

That would be the funny way to wrap this up. It would probably get a bunch of likes on Facebook and some chuckles in the comments, but the fact is, that’s him. That’s Zane. He’s ornery, full of sass, made for mischief, strong as a bull and smart as a whip. He is far funnier than I should ever admit. And he is kind. He is so damn, wonderfully, amazingly, wholeheartedly kind.

That’s a pretty good gift, too.

“Maybe in the morning we can have some breakfast,” he said. “Something that everyone can eat.”

“Of course,” we said. “It’s your party.”

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