This is how they celebrate birthdays at CJ’s pre-K.
A parent (me) brings in a treat. Candy and baked goods are not allowed, so last year CJ asked for “fruities” (fruit cocktails with whipped cream). This year she asked for popsicles. I got a kind that came in many colors, and somehow there was something for everyone. I had two green popsicles, and two kids wanted green popsicles. It worked out perfectly. CJ’s classmates shouted “CJ! CJ!” as I passed the popsicles out.
When the popsicles were done, the kids went inside and every one of them drew a picture for CJ. Only CJ didn’t have to draw a picture, so in the corner I read her a book about penguins. As the other kids finished, they came over to listen, until I was mobbed.
“I’m like a penguin,” CJ told them, her arms stiff at her sides. “Look at my big tummy!” All the kids puffed their stomachs out and waddled around me.
The teachers stapled all the pictures into a little booklet that CJ could take home, and CJ asked me if I would take her home with me. I told her I had to pick up her grandparents at the airport, and until then I had to work.
I remember how bad I felt saying that, but I can’t remember what I thought I had to work on.
Before I left I said, “I know you’re five now, but you’ll still be four sometimes, right?”
“Of course, Daddy,” she said. “I can pretend.”