Barnacle Boy turned 11 today. He was born just after 11, a synergy not lost on him. When he came home from school today I asked him how he was. "Eleven!" he replied firmly. Yesterday he enjoyed a celebration with his friends and Crash. All week long he wanted to know when we were going to the local dollar store to get the stuff for the goodie bags. Three weeks into "fifty fewer" I could not bear to send fifty-odd pieces of "stuff" into other peoples' homes. Instead I suggested we hit our local children's book store and buy a paperback book for each kid. The Boy worried about transgressing the unspoken compact: you will come home from a birthday party with a bag of small plastic things that a parent will soon step on and break (undoubtedly muttering some imprecation under her/his breath) and CANDY. In the end he was game to give it a try.
We traipsed off with a list of names, and Crash (in case we needed a second opinion). It turned out to be a great deal of fun for the Boy to select books for his friends - Game Guy likes dark humor, while Bead Girl would definitely not want something too girly. It wasn't any cheaper to buy a dozen paperbacks, but it wasn't any more expensive either (we bought enough that the store gave me 10% off on the whole bill - yet another reason to shop local!).
The Boy held his breath at the end of the party. The first kid out the door was presented with his book, and crowed, "I haven't read this one yet. Cool!" Whew.