So, Ben turned nine on the 24th. It’s a weird time of year to have a birthday, but we’re learning how to deal with it. It just seems to last for whatever the number of days is between the actual birthday and the next weekend day, with some mixture of presents and general indulgence culminating in an informal party with his clique from school.
This year, his birthday falling on a Thursday, he got his favorite dinner (drumsticks, mashed potatoes) and a cake (chocolate, vanilla frosting). We forgot to get candles, so I had to sort of wiggle my fingers over the cake until he made a wish and blew on them. Then they curled into a facehugger shape and went for his face.
We asked him what his wish was, and he said it was “let me watch just one episode of what you guys watch after I go to bed.” He started the negotiating at American Horror Story (no way in hell), then moved on to Sons of Anarchy (I’ll be rewatching that plenty in hell, so no), then went for what I think was the end game all along: The Walking Dead.
There was some debate: Entrails, human-on-zombie violence, maybe Shane sweatily pawing at Lori? Was that in the pilot? Couldn’t remember. Oh, and zombie on horse violence. But we o.k.’d it. He was pretty delighted.
Friday night, his friend Zack came over for a sleepover (Paranormal Activity, Minecraft, camera phone videos of assorted boy lunacy).
Saturday, we went to Oaks Park where he met with four of his friends and they went skating. Highlight:
Me: So, having a good time?
Ashton: Well, I fell and someone ran over my hand with a skate. Then I fell again and someone kicked me in the leg with a skate. Then I came in here and fell and stabbed myself in the eye with my straw. So, I guess so.
I gave him some cotton candy and listened to his outlandish stories about a giant Slinky he had at home.
Ben’s birthday present from me was a small Lego set featuring Gollum and Bilbo and some weird trap door that makes the One Ring pop out, and a Lego game called Heroica: Castle Fortaan.
The Heroica line is pretty neat: You get a small Lego set that allows you to build seven or eight dungeon rooms, provides four hero figures, a collection of potion blocks, treasure chest blocks, bad buy blocks and weapons. Each Heroica set comes with two maps you can assemble into a particular adventure, like this:
Then you move the characters through the dungeon trying to reach the final room. Along the way you can collect gold and battle monsters. Each hero represents a stripped down character class like you’d find in a fantasy RPG, and has a limited number of health points.
You can buy several sets in the Heroica line and combine them into bigger adventures, and it allows for some persistence from adventure to adventure (so a relic or gold earned in one game carry over to the next). The game rules include variants where players can either compete to reach the end first, or where one player controls all the monsters in the dungeon.
I was glad I found it: Last week at our friend Justin’s birthday party, there was some Lego stuff going on (Justin’s a fan). Our team won an Instagram scavenger hunt and we each won a Lego mini figure. We’ve never really put Legos in front of Ben (simpler building toys didn’t seem to be his thing), but he really liked the mini figures and asked for a Lego set. He’s also been asking to play more Pathfinder. So I walked into the store thinking “Hobbit-themed Lego set” but walked over to the games section thinking “fantasy/RPG-themed board game” that might give him some of that whole dungeon crawl thing without having to roll up a dungeon. And there’s Heroica: A fantasy/RPG-themed board game made out of Lego. Awesome.