On Thursday, Jari had the opportunity to meet the king. Yes, the king of Belgium (Albert II) was visiting our town, and Jari's school was going to welcome him. I was so excited for him. This is not something that happens on a regular basis; in fact, most people in their lifetime will never be in the presence of official royalty. But my little six-year-old had no idea of the significance of this happening. As he was leaving for school, I asked him if he wanted gel in his hair. "No" he replied. "But don't you want to look handsome for the king?" I asked him. He quickly stepped up on his stool, put in the required gel, and then asked me if he should put on something nice to wear. I let him go in his typical school clothes...nothing special!
I was extremely disappointed not to be going myself. The center of our town was being blocked off so that the townspeople could welcome the king and queen. I couldn't believe my fate as I woke up with a sick kid who would be staying home from school, and thus, I would be staying home as well. Darn! I just wanted to share that piece of Belgium culture with my fellow town-mates...but I couldn't. Our son would have to be the presence for our family.
When Jari returned home from school, I couldn't wait to hear all about his visit with the king. "So, did you see King Albert?" I asked. "Yes, I saw him! And I got to shake his hand." Jari told me. "YOU SHOOK THE HAND OF THE KING???"" I screeched out in excitement! "Yes, but he was old and bald and was wearing a blonde jacket. It was forbidden to get close to the king so I had to push myself up against the fence so I could shake his hand. And I had my Belgium flag to wave for him."
"So, was it fun?" I asked him? "Yeah, I liked it. But he didn't really look like a king." Jari told me. He was fascinated that the KING was wearing regular old clothes and not dressed in a crown and royal robe. Maybe his Playmobil castles, the movies we watch as a family (which are definitely not kid movies, but we do it anyway...my boys love Troy and Imperium Nero and Robinhood and...), and his favorite Age of Empires game give him an early-age view of a king. But now, he has a whole new perspective. He has met the king of the country in which he lives. He has had the opportunity to shake the hand of royalty. He has seen a king wearing a simple tan jacket, who is balding and a bit older. And though he is not Belgian, he has shared the excitement of Belgian natives as they stood waving their country flag, showing their patriotism to the king, the leader of their land. And my son was there in the midst of the excitement, sharing a moment he's likely to remember for the rest of his life.
And my biggest disappointment? Well, darn it all anyway, but I wasn't there to get a picture of my son shaking the kings hand. Pa-tooo-ey!