Hazel’s Birthday Adventure! Friday December 14th

The author feigning bravery while her daughter remains vigilantly on watch

The celebrate the day that Hazel arrived on planet earth (aka The Best Day Of My Life), Tom and I decided it was time to enter into the overpriced, overstimulating world of children’s restaurantainment: we went to the Rain Forest Cafe.

Hazel is a big fan of animals and junk food, so we were confident that it’d be a hit.  Tom had been before with some younger cousins, but I had no idea what I was walking into.  In fact, Hazel and I clutched each other with equal desperation when we encountered the animatronic snake hanging above the hostess stand.  I tried to collect myself and be brave to show Hazel that giant burmese pythons were nothing to be afraid of as long as they were hanging from the ceiling of a restaurant franchise owned by Disney.

We followed the sign that told us “Your Adventure Starts Here!” and were delighted at every turn.  Huge saltwater fish tanks provided ambient light, a crashing waterfall added to the din of excited children, and a canopy of flowering vines opened briefly to reveal twinkling stars against an inky sky.  Occasionally it would thunder and lightening, and the gorillas and elephants were so lifelike that a person without her glasses on might be startled every time she caught a glimpse of one.

Hazel’s mind was completely blown.  She would demand to be taken over to the elephants, then gather up all her courage when they flapped their ears and waved their trunks.  She happily pointed out the monkeys and parrots and clapped when fish swam by.  When lunch arrived, Hazel had no interest in eating, but did manage to settle down long enough to snag a few fries off of her Dad’s plate.  She munched and pointed and munched and pointed.

After lunch I took her to visit my Dad at work, who had prepared by snagging three slices of cake from the annual Holiday party.  She crawled around his office, pulling herself up on the coffee table long enough to eat cake and bash breakable items together.


My Dad encouraged this behavior and provided her with her favorite toys to play with: fragile antiques and newspapers.

One poop and several yawns later, it was time to head home.  Hazel was asleep before I pulled the car out of the parking spot.  She napped like she was trying to qualify for the napping Olympics.  When she finally woke up, I think she was a little disappointed to find the house free of jungle animals and stacks of papers held together by binder clips.  But I made her feel better by letting her eat half her weight in chocolate chips.

That night when Tom got home from studying, we put Hazel to bed with extra kisses and snuggles.  This year went by so fast, just like everyone said it would.  It feels like in the next ten minutes, Hazel will be going to school, then driving, then living in her own apartment in Paris, then being her own grown up self, then driving me to get my hair fixed once a week when Tom and I live in a retirement community.

I’m excited to watch Hazel find her way through life, I just hope I can figure out a way to bend the time-space continuum in the meantime…I’d like a few more baby years with this darling.

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