I knew my friend Lisa's son, John, was having 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 invitation 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 favourite cowboy boots with his blue jeans, and T-shirt.
Michael and I arrived at Lisa'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 three ponies, standing beneath the tree in Lisa's garden. 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 photographs as the children crowded around and petted their soft coats.
As I led Michael over to the other boys the cowboy asked who the birthday boy was? John held up his hand, John got to ride first and the first boy who could tell him the name of a real cowboy or Indian got to ride the second one. The boys started shouting out names, but Michael said, "Billy the Kid." The cowboy smiled and asked my son his name. "Michael's right. He gets to ride the other pony. The cowboy (his name was Will), 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 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 Wild 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 afterwards.
On the patio two picnic tables were covered with western themed paper table cloths with matching paper plates, cups and napkins. They were really apt. After the pony ride John's dad, Steve, 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 the parents. When Michael came over Steve remarked how cool Michael's boots were. Michael, the clown that he is, kicked his leg up as high as he could for Steve to get a better look. Steve smiled.
After the burgers and hot dogs Lisa brought out the cake. It was decorated with an icing pony and cowboy. The letters looked like lassos spelling out, "Happy Riding John". 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 a DVD from the party arrived. They were really great. Michael and I watched the video together. Now, I think it is his favourite DVD, Michael watches it all the time.