It was the best of days, it was the worst of days. It was a day of "what the hell is that on my carpet?," it was a day of "who is this child and can we keep him?" It was a day of three baths before noon, it was a day of planning a party for a friend.
I'm going to race through the winter of despair [redacted, redacted, I'm going to take my time picking up my friend at the train station so I don't have to deal with this anymore] and get right to the spring of hope. My friend Jessica came to visit - it was the first time we've seen each other since the move. Though he had certainly met her a couple of times, I had no reason to believe Ryan would have any memory of her.
As soon as she and I walked into the house, Ryan jumped out from behind the kitchen counter and shouted "Surprise!" He was totally excited to have company over, and announced that we needed to have a party. He talked a lot about putting up decorations, but somehow never got around to making any. He debated whose birthday we should pretend it was (if it's a party, there must be a birthday, right?).
"Should it be the shed's birthday?"
Uh, sure, Kid.
"No," he corrected me, "the shed does not have a smile to blow out the candles, so it can not be the shed's birthday."
"Should it be a bird's birthday?"
"Yeah, I'm sure one of those birds outside has a birthday coming up," I agreed.
"No," Ryan explained, "it could not be a bird's birthday because the birds would keep flying away." He flapped his hands to clarify the point.
"Why don't we pretend it's Jessica's birthday?" I offered. This seemed like a good idea - one that was never spoken of again.
Ryan helped me give Jess a tour of the new house, helpfully pointing out what he considered the highlights. "And we have a plant with HEART FLOWERS!" he said with an impressive Vanna White gesture toward one of our bleeding heart bushes.
While Jess and Stu and I were chatting in the kitchen, Ryan kept running off to his room and returning with one toy or another he thought was worth sharing with our guest. A remote control car! A talking parrot doll! A fishing net full of rubber duckies! He demonstrated each one proudly.
Most surprising, he brought down a couple of teddy bears and created an elaborate pretend scenario with them - I believe White Bear was flying away in a hot air balloon and fell and Orange Bear, in a superhero cape, had to get him to the "hop-si-tal" to fix a broken leg. There are two noteworthy things about this seemingly-typical scene: first, these bears almost never leave his bed or serve any function other than being sleeping companions; second, it is extremely rare for Ryan to use his toys to act out stories, and even more rare for the stories he performs to be anything other than scripts from books or cartoons.
Stu and I told Jessica that if all this interaction was because of her that she would never be allowed to leave our house. Ever.