Going to 11: A Boy & a Birthday

“We’ll play handball at the park.”

“It is supposed to rain.”

“Then we’ll get wet.”

And so, like 10 before it, Zane’s only want for his 11th birthday was a sleepover playdate with schoolmates.

“We can have pizza this year,” he said. “It will be easier than tacos, but two kids are allergic to dairy, so we should get vegan cheese. And a vegan cake. And vegan ice cream.”

“But it’s supposed to rain,” I said, imagining a dozen tween boys, soaked and trapped indoors for all of an evening and well through the morrow. I could feel the walls drawing closer, like a sack taut with wetness, and a scent of pending burlap.

“We’ll find something to do,” he said.

This is his thing, his heart’s desire. He enjoys laser tag as much as the next kid, bowling and balloons, trips to the trampoline, but those are not how he chooses to spend his birthday. He only cares for hours of camaraderie, late nights of laughter, and the more the merrier. He wants friends to feel welcome in a home worn with invitation.

“We’ll sleep in the living room,” he added, “so there is room for all of us.”

I look around the room, it is open and bright, guaranteeing an early rise to what will surely be too late of a fall. I do the math on what that means for me.

“And since there isn’t any school on Friday, we should have everyone over on Thursday. They can walk home with me after school, and play all day Friday so their parents don’t have to pay for a sitter.”

His face is deep in dimples, hooking a smile upon the corners of each eye, and there is no questioning of this plan. It is good. It is sound. He is set, warm and confident.

“But what if it rains?” I ask, once more with feeling. “You guys will be stuck inside and there aren’t enough video games for everyone.”

“No video games,” he said, for the first time in his life. “We’ll only do things we can do together. That’s the fun part.”

How does one argue with that, and why in the world would they?

Zane is everything and open arms, a hug at the ready, and I agree to his request like we both knew I would. Then he ran down the hall to tell his brother and his mother about the storm rolling in, and I looked out the window at the weather we won’t be heeding.

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