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Happy 10th to the Legos Star Wars kid

Posted: August 26, 2011 3:05 p.m.
Updated: August 29, 2011 5:00 a.m.

My younger son, Caleb, turned 10 last Tuesday. It’s hard to imagine we brought him home from the hospital 10 years ago.

If there’s two things Caleb loves it’s Legos and Star Wars -- put them together (which he has) and he’s in heaven. Now, he can be a bit obsessive about it, especially the Legos. His older brother, Joshua (who’ll be 11 in October!!), rightfully complains that Caleb hoards the Legos, not allowing him to build with the “best” ones.

This has a lot to do with the way their brains are wired. Caleb is very tactile -- he needs to touch solid objects and manipulate them. He’s an absolute whiz at putting Legos together, usually to make vehicles, especially of the space-faring variety.

That’s where Star Wars comes in. He loves the movies, the Clone Wars animated series (when he can see them), any books and, of course, Legos sets based on the franchise.

In fact, he and Josh used money they earned from helping out with lawn work to purchase a small set of Star Wars blocks as sort of a pre-birthday gift. His real gift from us: a new bin to hold his multitude of Lego blocks.

A year ago, Caleb decided he wanted a Star Wars-themed birthday party. A bunch of his friends came over, played at being Jedi or Sith spies and actually got schooled in Mandalorian craft (for milder fans of the franchise, bounty hunter Boba Fett was a Mandaolorian, a group of warriors) by a young reenactor.

As successful as last year’s party was, however, Caleb made an interesting announcement about a month ago when we asked what he wanted to do this year.

He still wanted a Star Wars-themed party, but a smaller one. A much smaller one, and a sleep-over to boot.

Try just one guest: a boy he considers his best friend.

As I write this Friday morning, Caleb, Josh and my wife have taken the dogs to the kennel and are putting the finishing touches on cleaning up the house to prepare.

My job: order and pick up a couple of pizzas, make popcorn and then join the boys for a mini-Star Wars marathon: two of the movies and the Clone Wars animated movie (which was universally panned, but the boys love anyway). The boys will be sleeping in the living room overnight in sleeping bags.

I’m sure there’ll be some light saber duels and such but, otherwise, I have to give Caleb some credit for making this decision. He doesn’t do well in large groups and crowds and complained that he and his friend didn’t really get a chance to talk at last year’s party. There were just too many people, he said.

To me, that’s 10-year-old wisdom. Caleb knows he doesn’t handle certain situations well, so -- a month ahead -- he planned out what he wanted to do to make his birthday enjoyable.

Smart kid, eh? Of course, I’m prejudiced.

Caleb still loves dinosaurs and rocks, but I think he loves Legos and Star Wars more. Like any kid, though, he can sort of be all over the map. One minute, he wants to play baseball. Next minute, it’s hide-and-seek. Shortly after that, he wants me to be the “tickle monster.” Sort of like tag, but with lots of tickling.

And other times, he just wants me to snuggle with him on the couch, watching whatever happens to be on.

Being the 46-year-old father of 10- and almost 11-year-old boys can be dicey sometimes, especially when each of them has their own quirks that need to be dealt with.

But, no matter what, they are my sons and for that I am very, very grateful and love them very much.

Happy Birthday, Caleb.

Bits and pieces

• Last week’s trial of now-convicted child rapist George Branham was a tough one. I’ve covered murder trials and the only one tougher than this case was the very first: Lawrence Crawford who was convicted in 2004 of killing 11-year-old daughter in 2001. Evidence and testimony bordered on the grotesque. I cannot imagine what the little girl went through on the stand. I also feel for the jury, who had to pay close attention to what most of us would turn away from. Branham did himself no favors with his tirade to the jury, family members and judge -- which probably added to his being sentenced to 50 years in prison. A thank-you to the jury for their service. As I said, I’ve covered many trials -- it was about time I handed out a thank-you on behalf of the public to juries everywhere, especially this one, this time.

• You might not have noticed, but as a follower of science fiction, I have: the Internet is all but blowing up over the choice of “no red tights” for Henry Cavill, who will play Superman in the new Man of Steel movie being filmed right now. Set photos revealed his costume is a one-piece all-blue jumpsuit with the red “S” shield and red boots. Purists say you shouldn’t mess with Superman. I only point out that DC Comic’s upcoming relaunch of their “universe” has him wearing the same kind of outfit. Warner Bros. is making the movie and owns DC Comics. I’m sure they’re just trying to be consistent.

• It looks like Muammar Gaddafi’s been run out of Tripoli, or at least out of his compound. The man was a dictator and may have personally ordered the bombing of Pan Am Flight 203 in 1988. For a while in recent years it appeared he might have finally been coming around to more democratic thinking. But the way he reacted to protests in his country showed his true colors. Here’s hoping he’s brought to justice quickly.

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