Monday, August 21, 2006


I can't believe my boy is almost 4! On Friday we will celebrate Oliver's birthday. After his first birthday when I tried to have a smallish party that turned out disasterously I have reinstated the no party rule. When I was growing up my birthday was always a special day because I got a cake the flavor of my choosing (always pink with pink icing), everyone sang the birthday song followed by each of my siblings giving me the number of birthday punches corresponding to my age -- and one to grow on, of course. I could have lived without that last tradition. Whose idea was that, anyway? But it was all part of the fun. Sometimes I got a gift; sometimes I didn't depending on if we could afford it at the time. But I always got a cake and I was always made to feel like it was my special day. That was enough. Nik's family traditions were pretty similar (but without the punches). So that is the kind of birthday that I would like my boys to have each year.

I've been talking about Oliver's upcoming birthday with him for about two weeks now. I talk about how he is going to be four and we count to four together. I tell him that we will have cake (chocolate because I still get to choose) with four candles and that we will sing Happy Birthday. But I'm not sure how much he gets. I know he will like the cake and the candles but will he understand that it is his birthday? That he was born 4 years ago? That it is his special day? I don't think so. And so I have been trying to think of the perfect gift. But anticipating what Oliver will like and what he will ignore altogether is hard.

I went to Target today all set to buy a toy for him that he had played with when we visited a friend with children a few weeks back. It is the kind of toy where you hammer balls into a kind of zig-zag tube. He'll love it, I thought. After all he played with it nearly the whole time we were at our friend's house. But then I saw the box and it said the toy was appropriate for ages 12 months+. So I couldn't bring myself to buy it for my boy who is about to turn 4 years old. And then I just got sad because I couldn't find one single thing in the toy section that I thought would appeal to him. So I think I am going with my original idea: fish. Oliver LOVES fish and so does Sam. Sometimes we even just take trips to Petco to watch the fish for a half hour.

And fish will kind of break me in to the idea of pet ownership. I have been toying with the idea of getting Oliver an assistive dog for companionship and also to help keep him from danger. If we can keep some fish alive maybe that bodes well for a pet of the four-legged variety.


  1. If it makes you feel any better, Tobin plays with that ball toy and loves it. :-)

    Happy birthday Oliver!!!

  2. Roo also loves that ball toy and his aide from his school bought it for him for his FOURTH birthday this year. I have told myself that I can not pay attention to the ages on the box. But, I have felt just as you have explained walking around Target with an empty cart trying to find a toy that my boy would like to play with.

    We did the fish thing though and he loves the fish! I bet Oliver will too.


  3. It's refreshing to hear your take on birthdays. I feel like I am surrounded by parents who feel obligated to throw a huge expensive party for each and every birthday- not to mention showering the child with gifts.

    Henry's birthday is Sept. 1, and I have gathered a few gift ideas for the relatives that will ask. But he is also hard to shop for.

    I also salute your fish idea! Sounds perfect.

    Happy Birthday to sweet Oliver!

  4. That is hard. Gabe is three and loves the ball toys, especially the one you mentioned. I recently say a new kind of ball toy and thought "Wow!Gabe would LOVE that!" But, I also looked at the age and moved on to something else. I think your idea of fish is a great one. Sometimes it's hard to know how to expand our child's interests when at times they seem so limited. Most of the time, Gabe really surprises me with how age appropriate he is with toys. I don't think he will ever be into Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles though...I probably should'nt have jinxed myself. (lol)

    Take care,

  5. Happy Birthday Oliver!!!!!!



  6. We bought Alexander a fish tank and he loves it. It's also a good way to teach him empathy. We let him feed the fish which he enjoys. When the fish are at the top feeding off the little flakes, Alexander likes to touch them. When they scurry off he thinks its the funniest thing in the world. We recently bought a puppy for him which he loves, despite the little puppy bites and rough housing that puppies are prone to. Yesterday, Alexander insisted that he walk the dog and he deligently held the leash. I was surprised at just how patient he was with the puppy. When the puppy would stop to sniff or chew on something, Alexander just patiently waited for him to finish. That to me is empathy because he was putting the puppy's needs before his.

  7. Charlie loved that toy---Pound A Ball?----dearly. His ABA therapists used it as a reinforcer, by making a cheerful fuss about putting the ball in place and giving it a good whang with the plastic hammer. A good toy has no age limits!