Today my sweet sweet boy Owen turned eight! It sounds so old – it is a bit hard to believe. He is at such a great age — today in the midst of a very crazy, event-filled day I thought, “it is such fun to be a mom for an eight-year old boy.”
Today Owen had his first birthday party with friends from our neighborhood. Usually, birthdays in Japan are more of a family affair, although small parties seem to be growing in popularity. We decided to try a father-son soccer party with a few of the boys Owen is closest with who also play YMCA soccer with him. We know three of the dads from our neighborhood and through different events in the past, so this was a fun chance to build on our friendships with these families.
The dads and boys met at a nearby park and played soccer – dads against the kids. Although there are no pictures of this, Eric said it was funny because initially the dads did NOT want the boys to win. When Owen scored two goals against his goalie dad, one of the other dads switched with him to make sure that didn’t keep happening! In the end, it was 11-9 — the boys had the victory. There was great cheering and joy in the victory of beating their dads.
Then, they all came back to our house for the party. (Ian, Annie, Olivia, and I meanwhile had been at our church’s Christmas worship service during the soccer playing- we scurried home to get the food set-up). It smelled like Costco in our home – cheese pizza, hot-dogs, and chicken nuggets for the hungry players. And cake! Every elementary-aged boy in Japan knows Inazuma-Eleven, an anime on television about a soccer team with special powers. All the boys, including – especially! – Owen – love this show. It was an easy cake to decide to make…
What we loved about this birthday party was that Owen had decided with us not to have his friends bring gifts, but instead to give small contributions to World Vision to buy soccer balls for boys who didn’t have any (through their gift catalog). It was a completely new idea to our Japanese friends, but they seemed to warm up to it. They all talked about looking forward to the “charity birthday party.” During the party, Eric explained more about the organization to the dads, and Owen had helped to make a box to collect the money.
Owen put some of his own money in, too… and we are excited that we can send enough yen/money to WV to buy twelve soccer balls. We will give follow-up notes to the families, and hope that it was a fun chance for all to experience the joy of giving.
We ended our day with special friends at a fun birthday dinner at our wonderful neighbors the Ishidas.