My son Matthew turns 12 on Saturday and we celebrated yesterday in the manner he chose: he and six of his closest friends (and younger sister Laura, 8) were picked up at school in a chauffered, white stretch limo and whisked off to the game room at Casa Viva in true superstar style.
As they tumbled into the back of the limo, four boys and four girls and me, one of their moms said to me, “Oh! You volunteered for this?”
“Was volunteered,” I answered, throwing a look over her shoulder at my grinning wife, Angi. She followed at a safe distance in the minivan bearing cake, gifts – and backpacks.
The true nature of pre-teens is revealed in the back of a limo where there is a control panel for all of the interior lighting, the radio, speaker balance, moon roof and even the button that opens a drain port to the street, letting the condensation from the ice bucket/soft drink compartment dump onto the street below.
It is also revealed in the somewhat run-down game room of a Mexican restaurant which has long since seen its glory days under original ownership and the name “Casa Bonita.” It is visible when about a third of the games are marked “Work in Progress” since your last visit.
It’s visible at your final destination, CiCi’s Pizza, where the buffet only has three or four half-claimed pizzas on the buffet upon your arrival instead of the usual dozen. (They immediately ramped up and began throwing pizzas, to their credit!)
True character is also revealed when there are just a few games available to play at Cici’s, and they must be shared in turn.
While that was taking place and the cake was being readied and the gifts lined up to be opened, I just had to say something to Angi: “Well, my son continues to amaze me. This time, with his choice of friends. They had a great time in the limo, doing all the stuff you’d expect. They had a great time at Casa Viva. Not a complaint or a rude comment among them. Matthew didn’t choose the most popular kids, or the richest kids, or even the prettiest kids. He picked the sweetest.”
“I know!” she agreed. “Every one of them has already said ‘thank you’ to me, and what an awesome time they’re having.”
To top it all off, our son (who can at times insist on his own way and tend to be controlling) shared the limo, its control panel, the games, the tokens, the tickets, the cake – and the spotlight – with some truly superstar friends.
It may well be the best surprise I’ve ever received.
And it wasn’t even my birthday.