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Here is where I make a confession. Calvin has never had a traditional birthday party. Every year he has had wonderful celebrations with his grandparents, but we have completely avoided the traditional "have a bunch of kids over for games, cake, and presents and send them home with a favor" kinds of parties. Jon and I both have fond memories of our own parties when we were younger, and there is no good reason for our own reluctance, other than sheer fright maybe. Each year, though, we've had to put more consideration into it as Calvin has become increasingly social, and this year was finally the year. We checked our anxieties at the curb, selected a free weekend, and did what any self-respecting parents would do: we farmed it out.

Actually, we gave Calvin the choice of having a party at home, or going to one of a variety of venues. His choice was a letterboxing hiking party at the Leslie Science Center, a city park in Ann Arbor with a beautiful collection of living raptors. The birds alone would have been a good draw, but we had a great guide who led us through making nature stamps, taught us how to use a compass, then took us on a well developed scavenger hunt, looking for clue after clue until, finally, we arrived at a cache box with a stamp book of previous visitors inside. Back in the party room the kids used their previously made stamps to leave their own mark in the book for the next group to see, then we had the obligatory cake and ice cream.

I believe fun was had by all, and I know that fun was had by Calvin, who enjoyed greatly the fact that so many of his friends came together to celebrate with him. I agree—the outpouring of love and adoration from so many little individuals was by far the greatest outcome of the entire day.


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