C.J. turned seven on Saturday. My baby is growing up. He’d been planning his birthday celebration for three months – the amount of time he usually puts into preparing for big life moments like his birthday, nobody else’s birthday, Christmas, Halloween and the end of the school year.
This year’s celebration took the cake; we may have peaked with his seventh birthday party.
We spent the night before at our friend Marie’s house in her RV in her backyard, which is one of C.J.’s favorite things to do. He loves glamping. We woke up and walked across the backyard into the house where Matt and I prepared birthday cake pancakes. As with most things I get off of Pinterest, the results were sub-par. But, like a good mom will tell you, if the worst part of the day was pancakes that wouldn’t cook all the way through, it’s a good day.
We took our time getting dressed and primped. C.J. had his outfit laid out for a week. He selected: his black Chuck Taylor All Stars, gray super skinny jeans, a pink-leopard-print skinny belt, a studded Monster High t-shirt and a pink oxford shirt. He decided not to chalk his hair because he was afraid it would detract from the birthday crown he knew he would be getting. He also dressed his American Girl doll, Julie, in a party outfit that he pulled together for her after much thought.
All of the party goers loaded into Marie’s van (thanks for driving, Marie! I still owe you gas money). C.J. Me. Marie. Marie’s daughters Grace and Kate. My friend KK and her daughter Saige. And we were off….to the American Girl Place at The Grove in Los Angeles!!!!!!!!
I had booked a 12:30 p.m. party in the American Girl Café. I don’t know who was more excited: C.J., me, Marie, Grace or KK. Kate and Saige were trying to play it cool because they are 13 and 10 and way too cool for dolls, but they were excited deep down inside.
When I called American Girl in December to make a reservation (it’s a tough one to get), I was pleasantly surprised when the American Girl customer service rep asked, “What is the birthday child’s name? How old will the birthday child be turning?” She didn’t assume that the birthday child was a girl. I told her that the birthday child was a boy and there wasn’t a moment’s hesitation.
“Do you a lot of boys celebrate their birthdays at the American Girl Place?” I asked because I’m always curious.
“It’s not common, but it happens frequently,” she replied, not skipping a beat.
“Do you do anything differently depending on whether the birthday child is a girl or a boy?” I asked. They didn’t. I was pleased, again. I like it when things seem easy.
Uncle Michael and two of his friends met us at the American Girl Place. C.J. was given the pink, glittery birthday crown that he had been waiting (and not-hair-chalking) for. American Girl Julie also got a crown. And, they both got a sticker that said “Happy Birthday!”
We were seated at our table for 10. This is where our crowd really went wild. Everybody who brought a doll got a high chair for their doll so that all dolls joined us at the table. If you didn’t bring a doll, you could borrow one from the Café’s shelves. C.J. had me borrow Ivy. She is Julie’s BFF and he wanted the girls to be together at his party. But, he also wanted to spend some time with Isabelle, the 2014 American Girl of the Year. So, he let (made) Uncle Michael borrow Isabelle.
So, there we were, 10 humans and six dolls. The server walked over to greet us and say happy birthday to C.J. Then, she said, “What does the birthday girl want to drink?”
C.J. looked at me, wide eyed. I put my hand on his arm and said “The birthday boy would like an Arnold Palmer.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry,” the server said.
Out came our drinks and each doll got a tiny teacup and saucer. C.J. and Marie smiled and squealed. Out came our appetizers. All miniature foods. More smiles and squeals.
The Café manager approached our table.
“Are you the birthday girl?” she asked C.J. He looked at me.
“He’s the birthday boy,” I said. This was getting exhausting. I usually don’t speak for him so often, but I wasn’t going to let anything dampen his day.
We ate. The dolls ate. The cake was placed in front of C.J. and we sang Happy Birthday. He leaned back, drew in a breath, his cheeks puffed out, be began to blow and, then, he stopped suddenly.
“Oh, I need a minute, I didn’t make a wish,” he said with concern. Pink candles were melting onto the pink and white cake. I was fighting the urge to rush him. He must have come up with something, because he blew out the candles and we erupted in applause. My boy beamed.
There’s a holder for your doll in the bathroom stall so that she can watch you pee. Not weird at all.
After lunch we entered the two-story American Girl Store and C.J. was more overwhelmed than I have ever seen him. There was so much to look at and so much he wanted.
We stopped by the doll hospital, where you could check your doll in for healing (repairs). We visited the doll salon where dolls were getting elaborate up-dos. Uncle Michael in particular was fascinated by this section of the store and snapping pics with his phone. Then, a moment that C.J. had been waiting for arrived. Julie got in line to get her ears pierced. You can watch your doll get her hair done, but you can’t watch her get her ears pierced. I’ve heard that’s because they use a drill to make holes in her head and that would prove traumatizing for children. I haven’t shared this information with C.J. I stood with him in the waiting area and when Julie was presented to us with small shiny stars in her ears, he was all happiness.
Uncle Michael spoiled him with the American Girl gymnastics equipment set; KK and Saige bought him a skirt; Uncle Michael’s friends bought him and Julie a white dog named Coconut; and I bought him a wheelchair for his doll. Presumably to use as she recovers from some injury incurred on the gymnastics set – although, once home, he put Julie in the wheelchair and pushed her down the stairs (more than once or 15 times).
The American Girl Place was overwhelming for all of us and we weren’t disappointed to leave after three hours.
C.J. fell asleep in the car as we headed home to celebrate the big “7” with Matt, Chase and my parents. He continued to luck out in the gift department. He wanted Monster High dolls and Lego Friends sets…and he got them.
When I went to work on Monday morning a coworker asked me if everything went okay at the American Girl store and if people were staring at C.J. because he was a boy celebrating his birthday at doll store. I don’t know. I don’t know if people were staring at us, because I was staring at C.J. And the view was fabulous.