I anticipated Mikey’s sixth birthday with the same heavy heart from the previous five. Six is not five, not even close. It isn’t four, three, two, or one, either, but more than that, it’s a number outside the realm of baby or preschooler or even little boy. Six is a kid. Mikey is a kid.
As luck would have it, I read a blog post right before my annual “week before the birthday” angst that claimed the older your children get the more you enjoy them. I took it as a sign from God. I ignored him.
I didn’t, however, ignore a three day old craving for greasy Mexican food. The day before Mikey’s birthday was a half day at school. I picked him up and decided to take him and Nicholas out to lunch at Miguel’s Jr even though they don’t love it. Despondent times call for decadent measures, giving me the green light to satisfy my craving for shredded beef tacos. (Between you and me, it’s a good thing I don’t live near any of their locations.)
So I walked up to the register, me with my kid(!) and my preschooler, armed with a child’s menu full of little they would eat. Quesadilla? Burrito? Cheese enchilada? I knew none of those would really fly and, feeling slightly guilty for celebrating Mikey’s pre-birthday with food he doesn’t like, asked him if he would like to share a very small order of nachos with Nicholas. It would be a fun treat– not that I planned to eat the leftovers, of course. (Ahem.) I said as much to him, minus me eating their leftovers. He didn’t answer.
Instead, he was looking at the menu board. I nudged him back to earth.
“Mikey, come on. People are waiting. Nachos with Nico, okay?”
“Okay.” He didn’t sound convinced, but a five year old rarely is when it comes to food. He continued to look at the menu board and finally, after a five second internal struggle, grabbed my sleeve.
“No, mom, wait. I want a taco.”
“I want a taco.”
“Are you sure?” I almost ignored him. I mean, don’t get me wrong; the tacos are outstanding. But I never mentioned to him the tacos, nor has he ever had a taco, so I wasn’t sure why he wanted a taco. Also, I didn’t want to pay for a it, have him hate it, and then have to turn around and buy something different.
I ordered him the taco in honor of his pre-birthday, waste be damned. Still, I was curious enough to ask him about his choice in food. He raised his almost six year old eyebrows in surprise, hiding them behind the hair he complains is too long. (I’ll cut it. One travesty at a time, please.)
“Mom, I read it on the menu. I read it on the menu and it sounded good.”
That phrase right there…it sounded good…is why six is nowhere near five. Five doesn’t read menus. Five doesn’t walk into a fast food joint wanting nachos and then decides on tacos based on a written description of fresh ingredients. Five picks at a quesadilla. Six inhales the taco after polishing off the rice and beans. Then Six asks for more and eats the rice and beans off his mom’s plate because she is too busy staring at him like he just grew a second nose.
Six is talkative and waves at friends from school who are also enjoying lunch out on a half day of school. Six, it turns out, is not too big and not too small and has impeccable taste in Mexican food. Six is cool.
We took Mikey out to Balboa for his 6th birthday. We ordered a pizza, which he thought was just okay. The pie he liked as much as a good taco.