The Saturday before the kids' birthday, we had a superhero party with some of their friends (complete with a preparatory trip to Brooklyn's very own Superhero Supply Store).

It was awesome.

But more on that, later. On their actual birthday, we gave them an embarrassingly simple breakfast in bed (see: granola bar with a candle) and let them open presents. Wyatt hasn't been separated from his bright blue mini scooter nor Daphne from her little stuffed Boots (of the Dora persuasion), since. We let the kids nap, then headed out on their birthday adventure.

They wanted to go to the huge toy store on Times Square (Oh, FAO, how I miss you), then out for ice cream. We were going to take them to Cold Stone, but the sign in the window shouted CLOSED FOR MAINTENANCE at us, and the three or four workers inside that were spreading grout over the tile didn't even glance at our poor children's pathetically sad and adorable little birthday faces.

So we whipped out our phones and begged Siri to point us in the direction of the nearest ice cream joint.

Siri hates Times Square. She faltered, stuttered, and then started spouting something about being really sorry about this, but all the ice cream in New York City seems to have vanished.

We couldn't find a simple ice cream cone anywhere in the dead of November (why do some people think that just because it's 30 degrees outside, we don't need our delicious frozen treat at a moment's notice?!). Bill and I *really* didn't want to go to McDonalds, ESPECIALLY the one on Times Square.

So we decided we'd head to the Jamba Juice in the bus terminal on 8th. The kids liked smoothies. It was cold and sweet. Whatever.

We settled in at a table in a common eating area nearby. Bill ducked out to go order a couple of smoothies to share and I started tugging off coats and de-packaging toy-store loot (the kids had saved their money, and Wyatt bought himself a much coveted subway train. Daphne bought herself a few miniature animal figurines).

I felt the eyes on me before I saw them. A table of four - maybe five - hispanic gentlemen next to us. They stared at us openly. Blatantly. Watching us with stoic expressions.

Now, I'm used to being stared at - especially on Times Square. My children are beautiful, and three of them so young are a bit rare around that area. People walk up to me just to openly stare all the time. But I was here to enjoy our disappointing birthday dessert, and I didn't especially want to be anyone's spectacle. Not knowing if they were thinking my kids were adorable or annoying wasn't helping, either.

Then Daphne said with an edge of panic in her voice, 'Mom?! Mom!?' clearly in the throes of a potty emergency (Oh, how I love potty training!), so I snatched her up off her chair and yelled over my shoulder, "BILL!"

Bill whipped around from the counter where he was making a purchase. Our eyes locked, he took in (and understood, bless him!) the scene and called back, "I got 'em! GO!"

Daph and I ran to the bathroom, which she thought was a lot of fun. And, you know, birthday potty accidents probably should be fun. We took care of business and I cleaned her up.

When I got back, my sweet and slow-to-offense husband was chatting away with one of the gentlemen from the staring table--in Spanish.

I love hearing my man speak Spanish.

I listened, picking out words I recognized. Esposa Stepper. From Utah and Washington. Then Wyatt in all his innocent glory asked loudly, "Dad, why are you talking in Spanish to that guy?"

Bill smiled at Wyatt and said, "This is Fernando. He speaks Spanish AND English."

"Just like you," said Wyatt.

"Hello!" said Fernando.

"Hi," said Wyatt, lifting his new subway train car conspicuously out in front of him so Fernando could get a better look. "It's my birthday. Daphne, too."

"Yes, I heard! Happy Birthday!" said Fernando.

"I'm Daphne! ROOOAAARRR!!" Said my sweet, docile little lady.

"You will have to save a piece of cake for me," said Fernando.

"We aren't having a cake," said Wyatt. Now, they didn't bother to mention that they had decided to have ice cream sandwiches for their Superhero Party, and the failed attempt at ice cream was to be their treat of choice for their actual birthday day. No, they just announced bold as brass, "We aren't having a cake."

Fernando was appalled. "NO CAKE!" he cried, clutching at his chest and his hat. He shook his head at them, disbelieving. He told us that he had two children who LOVED cake. They were in Mexico. He showed us pictures.

They were beautiful.

We began cleaning up and Fernando disappeared. I finished wet-wiping off three little faces and was wiping down the table for the next guest when Fernando reappeared with two giant chocolate cupcakes. He placed one each in front of Wyatt and Daphne with all the flair of a politician presenting a gift before a mighty king. He looked Daphne straight in the eye and said with matter-of-fact sincerity, "You HAVE to have cake on your birthday."

Then he went back and bought another one for Henry. Just because.

So the closed Cold Stone turned out to be a blessing, because the Jamba Juices were good - but meeting sweet Fernando was a real birthday treat.


Charms said...

Love it.

Ali Marie said...

Love it! My heart just breaks for him having to be so far from his own children. How wonderful of you to share yours on their birthday with him. I am sure that you were a blessing for him that day too!

Jenn said...

I love Fernando! This brought tears to my eyes. So beautiful.