Sometimes parents bring the drama on themselves. Kids have shorter memories than attention spans, and things that are deathly important today fade away quickly. Transformers and Beyblades of last year have rapidly been replaced by Pokemon cards, for example.
Then there’s Mouse.
Mouse is Charlie‘s imaginary friend, or perhaps I should say was. Last year Charlie would tell lots of random stories about his friend Mouse. We even threw a birthday party for him when Charlie announced the date last fall.
I wanted to do it again.
So I looked in the blog archives, found the date of last year’s post, and last week reminded Charlie that “Mouse’s birthday was coming up!”
Mouse is now a real mouse. Well, real in the stuffed animal sense. Last year Ikea sold stuffed mice and rats in their kids’ section (I love the randomness of their stuffies) and we had to buy a Mouse for Charlie. So now Mouse has moved from imagination to be as real as Mr Froggy, Baby Fast, or Paw D, and every other stuffy in his magical zoo.
The stories have slowed down from Charlie’s imagination. He doesn’t talk about Mouse being off on vacation, or use him the way he did when he was younger and really believed in his imaginary friend, but I wanted to believe in him again.
So I reminded the family of the date. The boys were excited to see a Happy Birthday banner in our house in the fall (everyone’s birthdays in the family are January-May), and they were thrilled at having a chocolate cake dessert for a completely random reason.
Again, Charlie escorted the cake to the table singing Happy Birthday to his Mouse friend, and the boys helped the stuffy blow out the candle.
Last year’s party was all imagination. There was no ‘real Mouse’ at the table, it was all in Charlie’s head with the rest of us playing along. This year, the boys knew it was a ruse. When I pulled out some Pokemon cards to give to Mouse for his birthday, they knew the cards were really for them and they lunged for them to rip open, knocking over a glass on the table.
It wasn’t the same. This is what it must be like in those first few years when the kids realize that Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Switch Witch and every other imaginary toy bearing character is … well .. just another chance to get toys.
If it were up to me, this would be the last of Mouse’s birthdays. Then a friend remarked on Facebook: “I really hope you keep this tradition alive …it’s a truly charming way to honour friendship, in all its forms.”
You know what? It really is. It’s charming. It’s sweet. It’s innocent. Perhaps Mouse’s birthday becomes Friendship Day next year. Maybe there’s no gift, and it’s just a day to sing Happy Birthday, have cake, and celebrate what it means to have friends. Sounds perfect to me.