"I'm still an ordinary kid," son Gideon reassured me when I expressed trepidations about his fifth birthday.
Gideon has gotten proficient at saying the right thing to Daddy, such as "Daddy is not a boring man" and "I don't think you're an old man; you look like a new man." I can tell this lad's going places --like right up the gastrointestinal tract of his future boss!
A lot has happened on the road to this birthday. With much effort we broke Gideon of the thumb-sucking habit and saved giving the orthodontist several thousand dollars (not that there's anything wrong with that!), but of course he has needed some sort of alternative "security blanket." Enter Andrew the T-Rex and Tiku the Koala Bear. We adopted them at the Build-A-Bear Workshop. If you're unfamiliar with the concept, for a mere pittance, children can custom design their own teddy bear or other stuffed animal. The genius of the business is that eventually the new pet will also require essential accessories such as clothing, jewelry, car pool partners, breast enhancement, a Boca Raton time-share, etc.
No, seriously, it's refreshing to see Gideon so caught up in the innocence of the Workshop. In this HBO age, a lot of five-year-olds could probably give their parents graphic instructions on how to create baby brother or baby sister.
Gideon's mealtime prayers run the gamut from what sound like Gregorian chants to "let's get back to my program" rush jobs that must test the omniscience of the Almighty ("WHAT did he say???")
"Sure, I'm going to get married as soon as I'm a grownup," Gideon informs us. He intends to have eight children -- all at once. And he plans for them to sleep in a bunk bed. Yes, one eight-story bunk bed. Guess he'll need to explore the GI tract of the Child Services people as well.
Gideon enjoys dictating stories such as "The Evil Bug" (bugs turn evil after eating poison ivy) and "Mummy Wrestling" (part of his Egyptology phase). He feels the need to supply his own dramatic sound effects. ("The man slowly opened the door...Da da DA! Then he brushed aside the cobwebs. Da da DA!")
Gideon has accumulated a collection of idiosyncrasies, including his disdain for soft drinks, his talent for giving cats names such as Fairy Drops Into A Trampoline, his extreme patience in telling the same "knock knock" joke 10 times in a row, his ritual of holding up an opened Oreo cookie and announcing "It's the moon!," his ability to spend hours decorating a house on PBSKids.org, his practice of flashing his stomach ("windowing," as he calls it ), and his reliance on a theme song when urinating.
Gideon still has the standard unrealistic childhood expectations. For his proposed "Gideon Movie," he casually asked me to build a metal snake bigger than our house. When I told him we didn't even have that much metal, he peevishly instructed me to buy it at the junkyard. You have no idea how close the Daddies Guild came to forming a picket line.
When I asked Gideon the best part of being five years old, he replied "I'm still a little boy." Considering all the neat things I've rediscovered in the past five years, I was tempted to reply, "Welcome to the club, son. Welcome to the club."
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