I knew my friend Mary's son John was having a his third birthday soon and hoped she was planning on having a party that was different from the last one I took Michael to. All they did was feed the kids junk food and cake then let them run wild. Sure, Michael thought it was great, but I didn't.
When I received an invitation in the mail two weeks before the party, addressed to me and my four year old son, Michael I knew this party was going to be a good one. The card was shaped like a cute little pony. Inside were the details of date, time, place and the words, "Bring your riding boots." Michael was ecstatic. He couldn't wait for the party and he knew exactly what he was going to wear: His favorite cowboy boots with his blue jeans, and T-shirt.
Michael and I arrived at Mary's and followed a trail marked on the grass with rocks leading around the side of the house. A poster board sign had been was taped to the gate. On it were the words, " Welcome to Johnny's Ranch! Pony Rides Straight Ahead!". The gate was left ajar so we went in.
. It was great. The first thing Michael saw was the three ponies with saddles, standing beneath the tree in Mary's back yard. Each pony had a little saddle on its back and a cowboy held all the reins of the ponies. The other mother's were busy snapping pictures as the children crowded around and petted their soft coats.
As I led Michael over to the other boys the cowboy asked who was the birthday boy. John held up his hand. He told the boys, John got to ride first and the first boy who could tell him the name of a real cowboy got to ride the second one. The boys started shouting out names of actors, but Michael said, "Wil Rogers." The cowboy smiled and asked my son his name. "Michael's right. He get's to ride the other pony." The kid who answered "Roy Rogers" was put on the third pony. The cowboy, (his name was Wil) helped the boys sit in the saddle correctly. He attached a lead to the halter over each pony's bridle and showed each mother how to lead the pony around the yard. Michael's could hardly contain himself he was so excited. He whooped and hollered the entire time he was on. The other boys followed his lead and pretended they were real Old West cowboys. I've never seen Michael so excited. A photographer took pictures of everyone getting their turn to ride and then standing by the tree beside their pony afterward.
On the patio two picnic tables were covered with western themed paper table cloths with matching paper plates, cups and napkins. They were adorable. After the pony ride John's dad, Barry, called out to the boys "Come and get it!" He had been busy grilling hot dogs and hamburgers on the barbeque. There was plenty of food for the kids and adults as well as juice and wine for the parents. When Michael came over Barry remarked how cool Michael's boots were. Michael, clown that he is, kicked his leg up as high as he could for Barry to get a better look. Barry smiled.
After the burgers and hot dogs Mary brought out the cake. It was decorated with an icing pony and cowboy. The letters looked like lassos spelling out, "Happy Riding John". Chocolate, chocolate cake. I asked Mary where she had it made and she told me the name of the bakery so I could order Michael's cake from them for his birthday.
John opened his presents then the boys took turns riding the ponies until the end of the day. Barry brought out his video camera and taped the boys playing cowboy as they were led around in circles. Michael had a great time and so did I. When we got home, Michael asked me if he could have pony rides at his birthday party. I thought for a moment he was going to ask if he could have a pony for his birthday. I smiled and told him I thought it was a great idea.
A week, later the pictures and then a video tape from the party arrived. They were really great. Michael and I watched the video together. Now, I think it is his favorite video, Michael watches it all the time.