Yesterday was my oldest son’s 12th birthday. We started with a birthday breakfast.
“Okay, birthday boy,” I said. “We have two presents to give you in the morning instead of tonight. You’ll see why.”
“Wait, wait!” his little brother said. “I have one for him, too.”
“Really?” I had tracked down his present (a very specific Lego kit) the previous night, and it was still in my bedroom.
“Just wait!” he said, running back to his bedroom.
So we did. My oldest was itching to open his two morning presents, but more curious to see what his little brother was up to.
“I hope you like it,” the little guy said, coming out of his room.
He was holding a cardboard box about twice as big as a shoe box. On top of the box, he’d built a roller coaster out of green pipe cleaners. The pipe cleaners formed the rails of the track. Toothpicks were the slats that held them together. The track started with a steep climb (about 18 inches high), then swooped down and through a loop. Half way down that initial hill, a paper roller coaster car was connected to the track. A little paper person rode inside the car, eyes wide.
“Wow!” the birthday boy said, taking it. “That’s amazing!”
His brother showed him how he could move the car if he wanted to, and the two of them huddled over it, talking roller coasters and roller coaster construction.
I glanced back at my bedroom, where the two store-bought presents waited to be brought out.
They didn’t stand a chance.