Double-Chocolate (Espresso) Layer Cake. I know. What kind of parents would feed this to a roomful of two-three-and-four-year olds at 5:30PM? My parents are democrats – and they’re both artists. They pay attention to detail.

Right before my first birthday in 2007, my dad expressed an interest in making me a cake from scratch. This was when my brother was not even a concept – I asked my mom the other day how we all got here, but that’s another blog entry. My parents had more time then – that’s what they concluded when Jackson came into the world.  My mom wanted to buy one, so they debated this topic for a few minutes. During this time, I toddled over to the magazine rack (I may have crawled because I was just learning how to walk) and tore out a page with a big picture of a cake and recipe on it. I brought it over to my parents – my mom met me halfway, because she was afraid I tore a page out of a book. They were so confused. They stared at the page for a while. They were speechless.

I handed them the recipe; what else were they going to do with it? There’s only so much a parent can give his/her child over the years. Toys break, movies get old, and clothes become too tight to wear. So, I get a moment of time. Six hours to be exact. And it’s in the form of a chocolate espresso cake.

Each year, my dad tries to beat the time. Each year he gets frustrated and says, “Next year, we’re buying a cake!” But, I know that won’t happen. He loves his espresso too much.

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So, we’re (me and Jacks) having our birthday party in Texas this year; my parents figured a destination birthday party would be off the cuff, whatever that means. It will be a party on the beach – I hope it doesn’t rain.

As for my Brooklyn celebration, it will be small and simple, but creative. Those who come will have to use their imaginations to make it fun. Pajamas are required.

We’ll be eating pizza, maybe even popcorn, sipping bubbly and singing, “Girls and boys just wanna have fun.”

My Happy BirthDate Sleepover Party will be Friday, March 12 in the Adult Room (@ my home) from 4:00pm – 7:00pm. We’ll be doing something a little special at the time of my birth – 5:29PM (my birth certificate says 5:30PM, but the doctor and nurse were arguing at the time I came out, so my mom is going by her memory).

Email my mom if you wanna come. If you can’t make it to the Brooklyn party and are more interested in the destination celebration, check out www.travelocity.com for great deals to Harlingen, TX (it’s finally cheaper than flying to Paris – only for a limited time). Call my mom for hotel recommendations.

I’m gonna be four – FINALLY!

Time for another car seat.

Technically, the word “sleepover” means someone stays in your house overnight. I decided to tweak that definition a little to suit my birthday needs. I’ve been talking about having a sleepover for at least a month, but my parents think I’m too young. It’s frustrating when you happen to be too old and too young for things on the same day, like when I got in trouble for jumping in my brother’s crib with a friend of my mine. Too old for that one, apparently.

So, here’s a revised definition: A sleepover is when someone, ideally a person you like, comes over and stays a little later than usual – even changes into his/her pajamas – and pretends to be not sleeping in your camping tent while the adults try to be social.

Maybe I can have a sleepover for my birthday.  I have to think about it; I already asked to have a Birthdate Party – I’ll define that one when I figure it all out.

My birthday takes a long time. Today is my mom’s birthday, and that means my birthday is coming soon. I ran into her room this morning, full of positive energy.

“Mommy, it’s your birthday! And when I go to sleep and wake up and go to sleep and wake up again and again, it’s going to be my birthday, yeah!”

My brother ran into the room right after me, climbed on top of the bed and did his bit.

“Happy birthday, mama.” He was handing her a toy cupcake with a candle in it. Whatever.

“Bug! Oh, Matt, look what he did,” she was gushing, and I had to get out of there. “Wait, Mattie, did you teach Jackson how to do this?” I didn’t even answer the question.

I pretended to be hurt and stayed in the living room by myself, whimpering like a puppy. What was the big deal? Who doesn’t know that cakes and candles go together?  I said “Happy Birthday” first.  I was enthusiastic about it, too – soon my birthday will come and I’ll get a cake with candles and lollipops and I’ll be so happy to be four.

I suddenly stopped whimpering. I ran to my room, found another fake cupcake, put a candle in it, and gave it to my mom. Maybe she didn’t need to know, at least for today, that I was getting older.

Merry Christmas everyday 

That’s all I want to hear and say

It feels like pink

It doesn’t stink

Who wouldn’t want to live that way?

Did you really think I was going to let my brother be the only poet in the family?

All I wanted was my yogurt this morning

Why didn’t you understand?

That cup of milk just wasn’t enough

You needed a better plan.

I needed the extra lactose

I’m entitled, I’m almost two

That is why the refrigerator door is broken

What else was I supposed to do?

I learned how to read some words yesterday – before my fourth birthday – and I am so happy about it. I have to say this to my parents: if I hadn’t thrown the tantrum, I would have otherwise been watching Ni-hao Kai-Lan.

Jackson and I were getting antsy, so my mom decided to read us books to calm us down. I grabbed a Dora-the-Explorer book faster than Jacks could even think about his book choice (I beat him at all the races). I think my mom was bored with the book, because she started asking me what I thought the letters spelled. “How do I know, I’m only three?”

“I don’t feel like reading, so you’ll have to help me.”

“What? Are you being silly again?”

“What does this letter sound like?”

I looked at the letter – it was an “s” – and told her what it sounded like. We went through each letter and soon enough, I figured out how to read “sat.” I grabbed my notebook, and we practiced some more. Jacks got bored with us and started playing with his blocks – daddy was with him, so I soaked in the undivided attention.

Here are the words I learned how to read: cat, moon, star, sun, bat, Jackson, pot, hot, sit, can, hat, dog, sister, brother and granny (the last three were hard, but I got it eventually).

I’m so happy I learned something new. For the last two months, Jackson has been reading letters off of everything, and since he’s not even two-years old, my parents were so proud, “Wow, impressive; isn’t he too young for that?” they’d say.  I needed something new to focus the energy back on me, and reading my first ten words did the trick, I think.

“You’re so proud of me, right?”

“I’m always proud of you, Mattie,” my mom said.

What I don’t understand is why my mom chose to read Jackson’s bedtime story first later that night – after all I had accomplished right in front of her. Why does Jackson get to watch Elmo when I’m getting ready for school? Why do they carry him down the stairs instead of me? All this, I just have to figure out.

I’m going to school five days a week, so time is already a problem for me.  I do love school, though.  While my parents talk about the public pre-school process over and over again, I’m squeezing my eyes real tight wishing the financial burden of a college-like tuition would color our world again for the 2010-2011 school year.

I really do love my school. I am in a class with four-year olds and a few special-needs kids (whatever that means – is it really news that we need more attention than your average grown up?) because I’m an “older” three-year old. We paint, sing songs, read books, do yoga, play outside, conduct presentations, cook, talk about the abstract, etc. One day when my daddy pick me up from school, I made a dash for a corner of the building and wrapped my arms around it saying, “I love this school.” Later that night when I was pretending to be asleep, I overheard my parents talk about how cute that was. I do what I can.

My brother doesn’t get much, but he can handle that for one more year, I think. He is smart enough, anyway; he reads letters off of awnings, books, magazines, games, you name it. He even plays with my leap frog computer and is better at it than me – he’s not even two. Oh, wait, he gets forty-five minutes a week at Music for Aardvarks with Audra – it was a gift from someone who won a raffle prize. I wanted to go, but I guess I’m too busy. I’ll have to make plans to see Audra in concert – I hear she’s awesome; that’s what all the kids in the neighborhood say.

I don’t know anything about test scores and diversity; I just like to learn, make good friends, and have the focus on me every now and again. That totally happens at Dillon. My teachers are great too – Heather, Karen, Merlina and Vicky – even my mom said she wanted to be their friend. They have all kinds of events there, too – and so many college kids come and visit us during the week, it’s  pretty great. If I have to go to another school I hope it is as wonderful as Dillon. I hear there aren’t many pre-school spots available in the areas of Brooklyn where we live, work and play.

Who knows. Maybe we’ll all luck out and win the lottery. I’m talking about the pre-school lottery. But the other one would be fun too. Aren’t lotteries supposed to be fun?

Q&A with Mattie James and Salina Sias

I was sitting at the kitchen table eating my delicious graham cracker – my mom sat there waiting for me to finish.

MJ: You don’t want a graham cracker?  IMG_0120

SS: No, I don’t really feel like a graham cracker.

MJ: Why?

SS: I just don’t.

MJ: (I looked up at the wall, struggling to make conversation) So. Is that a purse?

SS: Where?

MJ: Up there – the woman – she’s holding a purse. Is that hers?

SS: Oh, yeah, that’s a purse; I guess it’s hers –

MJ: Oh. (I drank the rest of my chocolate milk) Mmm. D-licious! So. Granny painted that picture?

SS: She did.

MJ: And she used the white color?

SS: What do you mean? The white color or right color?

MJ: (I started laughing) The right color. You’re silly, mommy.

SS: Did she use the right color? I guess so, I don’t know, I’m not a painter. But it looks right.

MJ: Why is she there?

SS: Where? Where do you think she is?

MJ: She’s just, like, standing there.

SS: Why do you think she’s standing there?

MJ: Because – I don’t know – because, maybe she doesn’t know her place, like, she has no place to go. But, like, she’s smiling. People can walk  and walk and smile, and she’s smiling, but she’s standing there, not walking…so I don’t have no idea.

SS: So why do you think she’s smiling?

MJ: That’s why I said I don’t have an idea.

I had to remind my mom it was time for bed. I was tired.

Note to self: Ask granny about the woman later.

Teacher was my first word, and I want to thank Taro Gomi for introducing it to me. my_friends_l

“My Friends” by Taro Gomi is a titillating story about the many friends out there in the universe who can teach you everything you need to know in life.

Learn how a bird can teach you how to sing or how to explore the earth with an ant – they can carry five times their weight.

I could not put the book down. Chunky books tend to lack depth and personality, and quite often, serve as  promotional material for Sesame Street, Dora the Explora, or Sponge Bob. Gomi gave chunky books a new reputation – or at least, I think so.

In sum, it’s super fantastic. Add it to your Christmas wish list…or birthday list…whatever comes first.

-Bug Kingsley

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