When my daughter and I arrived at the bowling alley Saturday morning we found the birthday boy holding a bowling ball and chomping at the bits. “Nini, we are bowling!” my now 3-year-old grandson announced when he saw us. William was decked out in jeans, a T-Shirt and his famous red boots. “We’re bowling,” he repeated. “For my birthday!”
Indeed we were. Plans for this birthday bowling extravaganza had been in the works long before the Obama Inaugural Committee began its deliberations. William and I had been discussing bowling for months, every time we drove past Westgate Lanes—mostly about bowling ball colors. One Friday William would declare he wanted to bowl with a blue ball; by the next Friday, he had chosen a black ball; later he was certain that he wanted a green ball.
Last week he made a final decision, only days before his birthday celebration, and he called to let me know. “Hello Nini!” William said, happy as a lark. “I will bowl with a green and black ball. You will bowl with an orange ball.” And then he added, “That’s a great idea.”
It was a great idea. When I got to the bowling alley on Saturday, however, William was holding a bright orange ball. “Is that ball for me? I asked the excited bowler-in-waiting.
“No, Nini, this is my ball.” His mother broke in. “This is the special ball for very young children; they gave it to William when we checked in.” I resigned myself to using a red ball. Before we began our game, my daughter Noelle (Ya-Ya to William) presented him with his very own bowling shirt, complete with his name on it—and a bowling-ball water bottle. Then it was time for the big game!
William, still wearing his red cowboy boots since there were no bowling shoes in his size, went first. The mesh bumpers magically appeared on both sides of Lane 28 as William proudly dropped the orange ball in the vicinity of the lane. The ball found its target and slowly inched its way toward the pins at the end of the lane. William popped his thumb into his mouth and settled in for the wait. The slow-moving orange ball actually knocked down a few pins when it finally arrived at its destination.
One game was plenty for us for after a few rounds, William’s interest in who knocked down how many pins waned, and he became more interested in the squawking foul-line beeper, the score-keeping computers and his bowling-pin water bottle. But he made a remarkable show every time he dropped, rolled or nudged the orange ball down the lane. When our final scores were tallied, William’s was way higher than mine!
What a wonderful celebration for this wonderful little boy and his family. I’m glad we got some pictures of his early success. If, I say if William should ever make it big as a bowler, we’ll have proof that he started early—red boots and all.