You educate a man; you educate a man. You educate a woman; you educate a generation. ~Brigham Young
Most people celebrate their birthday the day of their actual birth, or sometime close. Others take a week or so in preparation and to celebrate the anniversary of their birth. I really do neither, I’ve never been much of a birthday person. Seriously, I could care less about my birthday, except it also happens to be my parents wedding anniversary (I was born six years after they were hitched). Going out to eat, or birthday cakes and such never appealed to me. Well, cake certainly peeks my interest, but not the celebration. Yes, as a child I loved to get presents, but it wasn’t like it is today. Even back then, I remember asking mom to stop the birthday parties. Just not a big fan.
Kyle on the other hand is a big supporter of birthday celebrations, specifically his own. Literally, from December 26th up until his day of birth, July 30th, he is preparing, scheming and throwing hints left and right. Keep in mind, Easter falls between this time and he gets more gifts, not to mention his report card money that tends to go toward more Legos. But his birthday, day, opens his eyes and fills his head with possibilities like no other.
Keeping with tradition, I never get Kyle toys or video games, basically what he asks for. Nope! I get him unconventional gifts. They are items that I believe give him skills, introduces him to thinking differently, gives him life long knowledge or interests and helps him to grow as a person. Others, mostly my parents and my sister get him the items that make his childhood bucket list of desirables. (Happy Lego Birthday Kyle – 11 Years Old!, Flying Back to Kyle’s Ninth Birthday, Family Time Through an ipod Touch, Happy Birthday Kyle- 10 Years Old!) I’ve mentioned it in the past about buying him piano lessons, swimming lessons, flying lessons, books etc. So what to do for his twelfth birthday?
Starting to mill around ideas in my head back in May, which is when Kyle started to throw out hints, I really had no clue. I’ve been known to give him a saving bond, again another practical gift to force him to save for the near future, but I really wasn’t sure. Then, thanks to a family friend, Lori Planinsek Rodgers, she gave me the perfect idea! Bricks 4 Kidz Lego Camp!
She mentioned it while we were at the 24th Annual Planinsek Fishing Derby, Gone Fishing!. At the time I just thought it might be something fun Kyle would enjoy, so I mentioned it to him. Naturally, anything with Legos causes the kid to jump out of his skin. Well, that is until he found out he doesn’t get to keep the Legos he builds. Too bad! Looking online into the programs, the light came on in my head and bingo, his birthday present was established.
This gift accomplished more than just his gift. Kyle always loved going to daycare (Come and Play) every summer. He truly looked forward to hanging out with his friends and playing. The kids not only played, but the daycare ladies would make them bring books to read and they would have to go outside and run around and do some schoolwork. Kyle’s days were very planned, very organized and very structured. All the qualities that make for an enjoyable day for Kyle, truly! Well, this summer Kyle didn’t go to daycare. He was seriously bummed and bored! I wish he was sent at least a couple of days a week, but nope, his summer consisted of hanging by himself at home. That’s when I thought to send him to camp. Granted the kid takes more vacations then any other child I know, but it still stinks to sit at home by yourself, not being mentally or physically challenged and being socially deprived.
Originally, I was going to sign him up for the third week in July, bringing it closer to his birthday, but alas that week was the ‘Aunt Nikki and Kyle’s Week of Fun’. No good! So I had to work backwards deciding on the week of June 24th through June 28th, last week.
Signing Kyle up for Animal Grossology in the am session (8:30-11:30) and Space Adventure – Star Wars for the afternoon session (1:00-4:00) at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, all I could think of was how excited he was going to be.
Keeping the Lego camp a secret, I alerted the rest of the family and I made arrangements for us both to stay at my parents house all week, which made my parents really happy. They were looking forward to his Lego camp too for two reasons. One, to spend the week with Kyle and two, to share in his excitement, knowing how much he loves to build Legos and being challenged.
Leading up to the birthday present surprise, I started to prod Kyle a bit, although he never really took the bait. Probably because he knew his gift from me wasn’t exactly what he wanted. I did tell him he was getting his gift early and it involved animals and space. That sparked one of our dashboard silly conversations Laughing About Nothing…Dog in Space. Throughout Kyle’s short life, you would think he would learn to trust me. Our activities are never items he’s thought about or thinks are fun, but he can never deny he loves the gifts I get him.
One of the hints I slipped him, was that he was going to college and it was an educational gift. He politely smiled and gave me a grunt. Then he said, “I can’t go to college, I’m not old enough.” Love that kid! I told him he’s going and he better pay attention! I could tell he didn’t know whether to take me seriously or not. Sometimes I can be such an instigator.
Sunday night, the eve before Kyle was going to partake in his Lego camp adventure, I told him where he was going. His eyes lit up and excitement shot over his entire body, leaving his mouth ALL night! To be honest, I was trilled at his enthusiasm but it was getting late and I was tired. He kept speculating on what he was going build and what he was going to do. He commented, how much he loved animals and told me how much he knows about animals. Then he went into his dissertation on space and Star Wars. It was a long night until the sandman knocked Kyle out.
The next morning and all week he was up early, got himself his breakfast and got dressed, all without incident. The first day was a bit rough, especially at lunch. I packed us a lunch and thought we could picnic at Saint Vincent College and then walk around a bit. I wanted to share with Kyle, some of what I remembered Father Alred teaching us about the buildings and the history when I was in the sixth grade at Sacred Heart. (I found out that I remember very little and need to research the college again to bring back what I knew.) Kyle was very quiet and almost blasé about his morning and kind of complained about his lunch. Then, he didn’t want to walk around, didn’t want to sit, didn’t really care to go back. I was in complete shock and let’s face it, irritated. Only because I thought Kyle didn’t appreciate this opportunity. Keep in mind it was pretty hot and humid out.
I dropped Kyle off for his afternoon class and then picked him up at 4:00. Same attitude, same almost lethargic demeanor. At this point, I thought Kyle was getting sick or maybe he was tried from getting to bed so late and waking up pretty early. That is until the next day brought me my answers.
As I dropped him off for his morning session, I spoke to the one teacher to see how Kyle was doing. She informed me that the room was really hot and evidently since it was an old building, putting the air conditioning on cool meant they were turning on the heater! Yikes! Kyle was sitting in not only a hot room, but it was being heated too! No wonder he was so miserable. The kid HATES being hot. Not that I can blame him.
By the time I picked Kyle up for lunch on Tuesday, it was like he did a one eighty! He was ecstatic, energetic and completely excited to tell me about his day and what he built! I was so happy I didn’t make a mistake with the Bricks 4 Kidz Lego Camp. I did not! It was a hit, now that the temperature in the room was bearable.
What a great week! Everyday, Kyle and I ate breakfast together; then I dropped him off for his morning class; picked him up for lunch, which we made and ate together; dropped him off for his afternoon session and then picked him up when his day was done. Actually, everyday except Friday, mom picked him up for me since I was getting the Dog Gone! Scavenger Hunt ready for the following day. (For my company Thrill of the Hunt) That was the start of the Dog Gone Irony!
Kyle had a GREAT time! He not only got to feed his addiction of building Legos, but he fed the brain too with animal knowledge and space talk. As much as Kyle won’t admit to it, he loves to learn and discover new things and experiences, much like the rest of my family. Lori, who introduced me to the Bricks 4 Kidz Program, messaged me this:
I see you’ve been busy dog hunting the past couple days, but I’m wondering if you’ve had a chance to see any of the videos posted for Bricks 4 Kidz! Looks like Kyle loved the programs! His teacher brought their entire class (5 or 6 kids) up to our class to show us how Kyle put a motor on the kangaroo (which wasn’t in the plans) and made it move – WHAT A GENIUS! I was proud of him and he’s not even mine!
Kyle surprises me all the time and makes me proud too! He is a bright young man, that will no doubt shine in his future endeavors, whatever they may be.
He was an absolute jewel the entire week! Seriously, the happiest and most non-argumentative child. Everyday he came home and practiced his piano and read in his book. Then he would watch some of his Lord of the Rings movies, watched a little TV or played with one of his many Legos. He never complained about dinner and ate some of his veggies. He even showered every night with little resistance and brushed his teeth without being asked, morning and night. He was in a routine of structure, family, and good eating habits. Believe it or not, it made the world of difference on his attitude.
I highly recommend the Bricks 4 Kidz Lego camp or any of the offered classes! The teachers are really great to deal with, they have such a positive attitude and the benefits the children receive are priceless. I’m not just talking about learning to build, but the socialization, the structure, the added knowledge and the attention are so good for the kids. Kyle was looking into other Lego classes and wants me to sign him up for more. If he can fit it into his busy schedule, I totally will!
Thanks Lori! You saved my birthday gift dilemma and brought so much more to one little boy than you can imagine! You really are a true teacher through and through.
Below is a video I took of Kyle. I creeped into the classroom, while he was still playing with his creation of the day. The kid was in complete glory!