August 10, 2006
swan 29, your ride is over

My birthday was really excellent. Really really excellent. Even since I hit my twenties, I’ve always made a habit of gathering people together so I can be social and twittery and such. This year I decided that my birthday would be mostly about my family. So the three of us went to Centre Island, probably my favourite Toronto attraction. (Note: see turning 23. This is not the first time I’ve had this thought. I am nothing if not repetitious.) My mom & I took Blake to the Islands last year and loved it; I loved being there with the Boy; it all seemed like a good idea. And it was.

The morning was marred by anxiety; this stupid VBS thing is making me crazy and I was unable to sleep past 4:30 a.m. I tossed and turned for another couple of hours while the Boy was kind enough to feed and amuse Blake. When the two of them came to “wake” me at 8, I wanted nothing more than to cancel the whole freaking day. But! There was nothing to be gained in wallowing around the bed for a whole day, so I sucked it up, put on some nice black clothes and my big straw hat and headed out into my birthday. I brought the cookies I’d baked last night. That also seemed like a good idea.

My absolutely favourite thing about Centre Island is that it’s a park with rides, rather than an amusement park. (You know you’re old when you don’t like the frantic pace of Centreville, and would prefer to sit quietly under a big tree and knit.) We started our visit with a side trip to a big shady lawn, where we could gobble our picnic in peace. Blake chased seagulls in a confusing and erratic way, whooping all the time. It’s a good thing he’s not responsible for getting meat for the family. Recharged, we took our first sally into Centreville (a.k.a. the place with the dorky rides) and the boys took a swirl on the merry-go-round. Blake got a HUGE charge out of it, yelling ‘whee!’ with every bound. We got such a kick out of watching him that we did it again, 4 hours later. I love him.

Before the day was over, he also went on the antique car ride with the Boy and did a solo spin on the firetrucks and the powerboats. The latter two were so very thrilling that he cried shamelessly when he was pried out of the vehicle. The Boy & I were just relieved that he made it through without accident: he looked like the youngest solo rider and we watched his progress with our hearts in our mouths. Thank heaven for the attendant whose job it was to supervise the ride and be ready to press the big red button should something go wrong.

(I was surprised to see that they (the carnies?) would let Blake on almost all of the rides as long as a responsible person accompanied him. In hindsight, he probably could have handled a tour on the fibreglass swans, home of my favourite announcements. (“Swan 8, come back to the dock. Swan 8, your ride is over.”) We’ll do it next year. I kind of like the idea that each year we’ll do a little more until we’ve done all the rides and have to resort to a family-bicycle for amusement. The Boy & I improvised a whole scene based on the interactions of Blake (long-suffering eldest), Bert (crafty supernerd) and Una (the cosseted baby).

”Mom! Bert’s not pedalling!”
”I find it difficult to reach the pedals.”
”Bert, you need to keep working because Una is too young to help. Blake, nobody likes a tattletale. Keep your eyes on the road. You’re steering.”)

In between visits to Centreville, we took long walks over the other parts of the park. We explored Franklin Gardens, the educational garden loosely inspired by, uh, Franklin. Once again, the vegetable patch was a huge hit with Blake, especially the fountain where one could stand under the streams and fill one’s watering can. Now if we could only get him to stop picking the cherry tomatoes, we’d have something.

He took a very short nap as we walked around the north part of the islands, and when we were sure he was under, we stopped at a grassy part near the beach and laid him on his towel to snooze with his hat over his head. And then I got to kibitz with the Boy and knit silk in the shade, with the lake waves bounding in on the horizon. Pure. Bliss.

The day went so quickly and so well that we only came to earth around 6, when all of our tickets were used up. I can’t remember the last time 8 hours passed so easily. We were lucky enough to catch the next ferry, and the three of us made it to Sn’B at Lettuce Knit just as the evening heated up. I was thrilled and flattered when three women (whom I’ve known a very short time) spontaneously wished me a happy birthday (it pays to announce these things on the group blog, I guess). Michelle taunted me with her youth, Amy used Yiddish endearments when speaking to me (a secret life goal of mine since forever), Mel gave me a copy of an elusive toy pattern, Meghan fronted the money for a beer run, and everyone ate my cookies and cooed over Blake. Plus, the Yarn Harlot was there and had everyone in hysterics over her various anecdotes (her presence or anecdotes were not about me, but added a lovely grace note to my birthday nonetheless).

My day was sunshine and shade and laughter with my boys; good enough to make this one of the best ever birthdays. The end of my day was beer and empanadas and a keyed-up, yarn-obsessed toddler and laugher all around; this was the icing on my cupcake. My twenties are over but despite my maudlin grousings of yesterday I regret nothing.

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- Rocketbride's adventure of 8/10/2006 12:16:00 p.m.

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Don't make me send out the Blake. He doesn't listen to *anyone.*