"So what happened at your birthday party, little one?" I asked Jamie as I tucked him in for his nap this afternoon. (I know I should stop asking those ghastly fake questions that I know the answer to perfectly well and only ask to get him talking, but hearing what he has to say about things is so interesting that I just can’t resist.)
Jamie’s brow furrowed in concentration. "You had cake!" he announced with satisfaction. (This is absolutely true, but I doubt it was my helping of cake to which he was referring – he still hasn’t really got the intricacies of first- and second-person pronouns sorted out, and when he says ‘you’ it’s normally referring to himself.) "And," he continued, on a roll now, "you ate some cake. And the cake was finished. And," he concluded, "the cake was good."
I think we can safely say that the cake was a hit.
The rest of his birthday was just as good, with the exception of the weather, which was, sadly, far too dreadful for him to get to ride his main present – a car big enough for him to sit in and drive himself, complete with switches and pedal and flashing lights and electronic noises – around the garden as we had planned. But being indoors was still enormous fun. His other presents included:
Two big elaborate marble runs – one from us, one from my mother.
A Thomas the Tank Engine toy with numbered buttons to press that recites the names of the different engines, from my sister.
Books – a miniature set of books about the Night Garden characters, from my mother, and ‘Going to Playschool’ and ‘Each Peach Pear Plum’ from us (plus a couple of others that I’m saving for his actual birthday, on Tuesday).
A singing Iggle Piggle toy, from us.
One of those magnetic doodle pads that you can write on and erase, from my grandmother. (I have to record that he wrote a perfectly legible ‘J’ on it, without help.) Also an Arizona T-shirt.
A Mr Men tambourine, from my mother.
A wooden threading bear toy, from my mother.
He opened all of these (except the marble run from us, which we kept back for the evening) when he first got up, with squeals of delight – "Oh! A big present! I want to see what’s inside!" – and then we took him through to the living room, where his car was, and he was most pleased with that as well and had a go driving it back and forth. Then he went off to the even better pastime of playing on his computer, until lunchtime, and then played on his computer a bit more (I probably should try cutting down on that computer time at some point) until it was time for the cake, which was actually a pile of twelve fairy cakes that Barry had split and filled with strawberry jam and buttercream icing to make them into miniature Victoria Sponges. We all sang "Happy Birthday" and Jamie stood on his chair bopping along to it, and then I helped him blow his candles out and Ruth tried to persuade him to make a wish, but it turned out his wish was an emphatic desire to get to eat some cake, so we happily made that one come true. And he opened his cards, which I’d thought might be anticlimactic, but in fact he was delighted with them as well (all those number 3s! And a picture of Mr Happy! And a picture of Iggle Piggle with Upsy Daisy!)
Then, after his nap, he opened up the marble run from us and had great fun playing with that too ("Round an’ round an’ round an’ round an’ round an’ round an’… in!" he chanted, as the marble traced its spiral around the funnel-shaped part of the run), and then played on his computer even more, and eventually went up to bed. At which point I asked him again about his birthday and he seemed to be under the impression that he had actually received a big and a little football. Nice to know all those presents made so much impression on him.
I can hear him chatting away on his monitor as I type this. Barry just took his new Night Garden books upstairs for him to read in bed, which was apparently a popular move – not only is he fascinated by all things Night Garden, but the different coloured pages in each book are also a huge hit with him. "And this is… some kind of orange," I’ve just heard him announce to himself.
I was having difficulty thinking of an ending for this post, so I took a break and went up to see him, where I found that the light from his little battery-operated nightlight had dimmed so much that the ‘orange’ must have been either imagination or a reference to the light itself. Nothing daunted, he was taking the books out of their box one at a time (it’s one of those sets that comes in a little open-sided box to fit them), counting them out with "And somesing like this. And somesing like this. And… that’s all there is."
I offered to put new batteries in his light.
"Oh, no!" he squealed.
"Oh, no! Your light has old batteries in it!"
I agreed with this and re-extended the offer of replacements, and he handed the light over to me. When I returned, he was putting the books carefully back in their box, one at a time, being careful to turn each one around the right way, and counting them off again ("Now there are two missing… now only one missing…")
I still don’t have a snappy ending for this post. But I have an extremely cute and wonderful almost-three-year-old little boy, and that’s even better.