So enough about my parenting philosophies and my 1500-word glowing endorsement of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan…let’s get to the actual show!
On Thursday morning last, I whispered to Gideon that he would not be taking a nap with his sisters that afternoon, but would be going somewhere very special with me and his Grandmother to receive an early birthday gift. His eyes lit up and he leaned in closely to whisper back excited nothings and to make sure I knew that he could keep a secret, and he spent the rest of the morning making exaggerated conspiratorial faces at me and patting Rebekah consolingly, even though she had no idea that when she woke up from her nap, we would have flown to Neverland without her. Our poor little Wendy girl…
But for that matter, Gideon had no idea we were going to Neverland, although I did divulge that his early gift was that we were taking him to his very first play…just so he wouldn’t spend the day conjuring up unrealistic birthday surprises of like, I don’t know, a helicopter ride or his very own living T-Rex.
“A play?” he asked, intrigued, “Like the one at Gabbie’s Kindergarten?!”
“Ummmm…it will be a little bit bigger than that.” I told him, my excitement growing into a fluttery little pit in my stomach.
By 1:00 p.m., the girls were asleep under Papa’s care, and we were on our way, an afternoon of relaxation and shopping – and food! – on the horizon, followed by our big night at the Performing Arts Center. I was kind of beside myself.
Gideon was such a good sport, sitting through a couple of hours at Anthropologie and A Pea in the Pod as his Mama got outfitted in a new maternity wardrobe: a week before, I had retrieved my maternity clothes from the attic to find that what remained was something they might dress a P.O.W in during a long Russian winter, and I nearly cried on the spot. The next day, my Mom offered to have mercy on me and take me for a little shopping spree if I could manage to get away early. I managed, and although I suppose we normally wouldn’t celebrate a little boy’s birthday by going shopping for maternity clothes, sometimes, necessity just calls with an urgency.
We broke up the monotony for him, though, with a short trip to Pottery Barn Kids, and then a 3:00 dessert at our favorite eatery in Tulsa, Queenie’s Plus. And please excuse me while I chase a rabbit…
Gideon was a curmudgeon of a baby (click here for more). He was claustrophobic, and grumpy and shackled by his own infancy, and I honestly couldn’t take him anywhere. Except for Queenie’s. They have an outdoor seating area on the sidewalk, and it became a refuge for us those first two years of his life – Mom and I could eat in peace, and he would happily watch the birds hopping around as he took in unlimited fresh air and solitude. It was the first public place I took him after he was born, and it was nearly THE only place we ate out until he was just past 2 years old.
And so there was something extremely touching about returning to that sidewalk table with him on this very monumental day as we sipped on coffee (and milk for him) and munched on our favorite desserts. I kept looking at him, trying to reconcile the little boy before me with the little baby I had brought here so frequently in years past, and I had to ask myself once more, “How is it possible that you can watch nearly every moment of their growth but not see it take place? Where did my baby go, dagnabit?!”
Anyhow, I am so grateful to have a place like Queenie’s to celebrate our special occasions, and the staff made such a big ado over Gideon’s upcoming birthday, even sending home some complimentary muffins to help him further celebrate the next morning. My heart was just overwhelmed to have this moment, at this place that had become like a second home to us over the years…
And it was here that my Mom handed Gideon a long, rectangular box wrapped in green and brown tissue paper and tied up with green string.
“Open it,” she said, “and it will help you guess which play we’ll be seeing tonight.”
Grinning, he tore into the box, eyes shining with that beautiful expression of innocent joy that children seem to have exclusive rights to.
Inside the package lay a brand new, size 7 Peter Pan costume, one that would actually fit! And one that would probably ensure that everyone we pass while Gideon is still wearing it to Wal-Mart as an 11-year old will know that he is homeschooled. His coolness will know no bounds…and it was as if Mom and I both realized at the same moment that we had not carried out this idea to it’s conclusion as it sunk in that we would be seeing this new costume for many, many years…well past the “cute” stage and more into the “sad” stage. Oh, well. We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.
“We’re going to see ‘Peter Pan’?!” he exclaimed.
Mom and I, leaning down at his eye level, hanging on his every word and reaction, laughed and giggled and clapped until I’m sure that everyone nearby either wanted to cry tears of sentimentality or maybe disgust at our obvious and overdone doting. Sorry, onlookers. We’re in love with the boy.
“Can I wear my new costume to the play?!” he asked.
“Uhhhhh…” I said, conflicted, for as eager as I was for him to get to wear his new costume and to match Peter Pan, you might remember that I had sworn when we saw Beauty and the Beast with my nieces that I would refrain from ever dressing my kid to match the star of the show we were seeing…unless we would be the only ones in costume, at a show like, say “Fiddler on the Roof”.
I was slightly joking when I said it, but not really, and now, as usual, my words were coming back to haunt me, and I cringed at the idea that I would look like an overindulgent mother as I toted around my own miniature Peter Pan among a sea of little boys and girls in Peter Pan and Tinkerbell costumes…
But later that night, after some more shopping and a fantastic supper at The Olive Garden, in the parking lot of the Tulsa Performing Arts Center, Gideon excitedly tore off his clothes and donned his brand new true-to-size costume, taking meticulous care in tucking his pants into his boots and securing his waist belt just so. As we made our way across the street and down the sidewalk, we had to stop every 5 steps or so to allow him to adjust his pants, his boots, his hat…
But finally, we reached the main entrance to the PAC. “Here we go…” I thought, ready to greet a roomful of identically dressed children hanging on the arms of their loving and indulgent mothers…
But boy, was I was wrong…
Did I say we would actually get to the play today? My mistake! But tune in tomorrow…the Grand Finale is coming up next!
(Read Part Three here).