Jeremy’s 18th birthday extravaganza…

“Mom? Can I open my presents tonight? Please?” Jeremy begged. “It would make so much more sense than tomorrow morning. We’re not going to have much time and I could try out stuff before leaving. Especially if I got a remote control car…”

“I didn’t buy you a car,” I interjected. I knew who did and also knew zie wouldn’t get it until Saturday afternoon.

“That’s okay,” zie continued. “No matter what it is, I won’t have any time with it on my birthday morning. We’ll be getting up then going right out for the bus.”

Which was true enough. We had a family dinner to attend on Thursday night then Jeremy opened zir presents from me as soon as we got home.

opening presents

The bluetooth speaker was a huge hit. Zie immediately synced it to zir phone and set it to play in our living room, turning off the lights for maximum effect…

disco lights

Nothing says disco more than instrumental soundtracks from video games.

The other presents were a hit too. Zir Minecraft keychain turned out to be a working chest which zie’s using to store gum…

Jeremy and zir Minecraft keychain

At least zie was last night. At the rate Jeremy goes through gum, it’s probably all gone by now.

The only thing Jeremy wanted to do for zir 18th birthday was to ride a quad bike at Centre Island. I had visions of us picnicking on the lush green lawns under a gorgeous blue sky with downtown Toronto as a back drop behind us. That so didn’t happen.

From the moment Jeremy’s birthday showed up in the extended weather forecast, it called for rain all day. By Thursday, thunderstorms got added as a special treat. The bike rentals are weather dependent. I started frantically trying to think of something else we could do in downtown Toronto. The Hockey Hall of Fame was a definite no. I’m an ethical vegan so the new aquarium wasn’t an option. And Jeremy’s not that fond of heights so the CN tower didn’t seem like a great idea either (especially since heavy rain would destroy the view). After an entire week of waffling I decided to take zir to the island and hope for the best, which we got although it was slightly delayed.

Jeremy made a friend on our last trip to Toronto and she met us at Union Station. The two of them chatted all the way across to the island, where we found the closed and shuttered bike rental shop. My heart sank. Then I saw a sign saying they opened at 10:30am (phew). Ten thirty came… the staff didn’t. I tried the number on their website and the automated voice cheerfully announced the shop opened at 11am. By this time the clouds were breaking up, I hoped someone was looking at the sky and not the forecast.

Jeremy had already asked several times when we’d be having lunch so I figured that would be a decent distraction. I picked a picnic table situated right beside the shop with a view of the pier. Jeremy asked if we could eat on the pier instead. Our food nearly ended up in the lake due to the strong lake winds but Jeremy’s hair looked fabulous…

wind in Jeremy's hair

We got back and finally the shop was being opened. The employee paused while pulling a bike out to inform us the shop opened at 11:30am. Alrighty then… it was time for birthday cupcakes (and the last distraction I had available). Luckily the bikes were out by the time the cupcakes were done and we were the first in line for our quad bike. Jeremy, of course, took the wheel and we were off to explore the island… or as much as we could without crossing any bridges.

Friend and Jeremy on the quad bike1

The bike actually is adorable. I love the little headlights.

The sun even came out while we were riding. Jeremy and zir friend were thrilled with everything. The island school and fire station… the house boats… the playground and mysterious wooden fort (presumably another playground). Meanwhile I peddled, pointed stuff out, and listened to them talk and laugh.

It started to rain when Jeremy’s friend had to leave. We went on a couple of rides at the amusement park but it’s aimed at small children and Jeremy was way too big for most. Even the roller coaster was tiny.

The poor kid thought zie was at risk of decapitation, as if the ride would still be open if every 6ft 2in adult lost their head halfway through.

The poor kid thought zie was at risk of decapitation, as if the ride would still be open if every 6ft 2in adult lost their head halfway through.

The rain turned into a torrential downpour by the time we reached Union Station. I had plans of taking Jeremy to The Old Spaghetti Factory for dinner but it was only 2:30pm and even Jeremy’s not ready for lunch that early. However, I knew of a store in the Eaton Centre which sells Doctor Who items. It wasn’t that far away and we could get there through the PATH. This was the biggest mistake I made all day, although it turned out okay in the end.

The PATH is a labyrinth of food courts and stores under the office towers in downtown Toronto. They’re loosely connected with infrequent maps and signs. Two decades ago I knew the PATH well enough to easily travel to the Eaton Centre but the stores I used as landmarks have all changed. It’s a tedious and confusing route at the best of times, dragging along a claustrophobic teen brought new *excitement* to the experience.

I was finally able to assure zir we were moments away from the actual mall and then we ran into construction… underground… in a mall. The detour continued to lead us further east. Jeremy panicked while I lied and said we’d be there soon. Finally we hit a subway station and I scrambled out as quick as I could, only to realize I recognized nothing. It wasn’t a big deal, we were in downtown Toronto, not the dark side of the moon. I just needed to walk a bit and find…


Jeremy’s used to me and my obsession with little hidden parks and followed along behind me. And this little courtyard garden was worth it. Not only were there trees but three amazing fountains. My favourite was the bronze sculpture of tree that shot a spiraling fountain of water into the air.

fountain courtyardI watched Jeremy surreptitiously while I snapped a serious of fountain photos and knew zie wouldn’t make it to the mall without collapsing into a meltdown. Zie needed plenty of quiet and some food. Meanwhile we were standing beside a small, almost empty restaurant. As much as I love The Old Spaghetti Factory, it’s anything but quiet. This restaurant ended up being the best.

Jeremy enjoying zir birthday dinner

Steak, potatoes, and one of Jeremy’s favourite shows, piped comfortably in through zir headphones.

Jeremy was in much better spirits when we left and so was I. They didn’t have anything vegan on the menu but the chef “whipped up” a pasta dish for me that was amazing. And we turned out to be only three blocks away from the mall… where we found Doctor Who earrings for both of us and a full sized sonic screwdriver for zir (the 11th Doctor’s of course).

I’ll write about Jeremy’s family dinner and zir rainbow Doctor Who cake tomorrow.