I was away on his actual birthday. Got back from the Congo a day later.
But the next day we went to a toy store together -- he chose a toy backhoe; he loves construction machinery -- and then I took him in the afternoon to the Wasserkuppe.
The Wasserkuppe is a small mountain about half an hour away from here. It's famous for sailplaning, and also for a Cold War era radome on the summit that's now a museum. But it also has a small amusement park near the top, which includes a couple of... I don't know what they're called, exactly. Summer sleds? The toboggan things that go on wheels down a track. The tracks are a couple of km long, so you can build up some pretty good speed going down the mountainside.
It was a cloudy, foggy day but (as it turned out) the top of the Wasserkuppe just poked above most of the clouds, so it was half-sunny, cool but nice. The amusement park was open, but not busy at all -- we could go on all the rides without waiting in line more than a few moments.
As it turns out, Jacob is the kind of kid who likes going on rides, but doesn't care to go on them twice. (I did not know this. I have learned something new about my son.) So in an hour or so, we'd been on every ride -- there aren't that many. We rode on all three (slow, fast, and whoa) that go down the mountainside and back. We went on the "witches broomstick", which is a roller-coastery sort of a thing, and on the slow-turning kiddie swing. (Think of a metal T-bar with playground swings hanging from the crossbars. Now rotate it slowly.) We ate french fries with ketchup and then, on the way out, an ice cream cone.
Jacob was... not exactly wiggling with delight. More like, very content. He spends a lot of time in the shadow of his two older brothers, and I think he was enjoying being away from them and alone as much as he was liking the rides and all.
-- One thing that struck me. Germans are so! much! less! concerned about safety issues than litigation-happy Americans. For instance, several of the rides had /no operators/. The kiddie swing? Just a big button with a sign saying "stops automatically". Granted, it wasn't exactly a life-threatening blur of speed and raw metal. But still. And the witches broomstick, which is a real, no-kidding amusement park ride, was coin-operated. Sit down, close the safety bar, put two euros in the slot, and off you go. The playground had a huge, fast slide; at the base of the ladder was a box of sacks you could bring up, to sit on and go even faster. It was awesome -- there was a constant stream of kids going up and down -- but the American part of my brain was all "shouldn't someone be on duty there? what if one of those kids is careless and gets hurt?"
But nobody did get hurt (at least, not while we were watching) and we both had a really good time. Happy birthday, little boy.