Sprinkle-topped fudgy brownies

My son, Jack, celebrates his 11th birthday this week. It seems like just yesterday we were planning a big Mickey Mouse-themed bash for his second birthday after having recently moved to Hillsboro, but nine years later, things have changed.

Jack no longer wants a big birthday bash and, while I haven’t asked, I’m guessing he wouldn’t be a fan of the Mickey theme. He asked us to keep things simple: All he wants for his birthday is to see his cousins. (Jack’s two cousins, Connor and Caden, are his favorite people on the entire planet and he hasn’t seen them since Christmas.)   

In terms of food, he suggested a laid-back approach: “Some sort of chocolate cake. And just like some pizza or something. You don’t have to cook. You’re busy.” He also requested that instead of decorations, I should put the money I would have spent on balloons and paper plates toward his gift budget.

That’s another thing that’s changed: the kid has become a shrewd businessman.

One reason Jack insists on keeping things low-key for his party this weekend is because I’ll be gone for work next week and will miss his actual birthday. I asked several times if he was OK with this and then the light bulb went off in his head.

“You sound like you’re feeling guilty,” he commented. “Can we put a dollar amount on this guilt? I just think we could arrive at some sort of settlement that makes us both feel better about you being gone,” he said with a sly grin. He actually managed to negotiate an agreement where I’m paying him a daily rate to assuage my guilt while I’m away and I somehow still feel like I’m coming out ahead on this deal. (I am second-guessing everything now that I write this, however.)

Jack wants to be an architect or a video game streamer when he grows up, but I think the kid’s got a bright future as a lawyer.   

One thing that hasn’t changed over the years is Jack’s love for fudgy brownies topped with sprinkles. In fact, the terms of our agreement include my leaving a pan of these brownies in the fridge before I go.

Happy birthday, Jack!

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