Saturday, March 16, 2013

Party Time

We have this friend who throws these amazing, totally over the top, wildly outlandish birthday parties for her kids. My kids will FREAK OUT whenever one of these invitations arrives by mail and Jack has been known to sequester himself away with these invitations so that he can caress the paper and memorize all of the details and then question us repeatedly about how many days, hours, and minutes are left in his countdown to the big event. And who can blame him? These parties are the closest things to Disneyland that my kids have ever experienced. Everyone is invited. No details are overlooked, and you know you're going to go home with a gigantic haul of party favors.

But me? I am barely hanging on by a thread. I think I might accidentally present myself as someone who is capable of pulling off a creative and cool birthday party, but this is sadly not the case. We make it through Christmas and then it's birthday season.  And two parties within three weeks is too much for me. I just can't do it. Goodie bags and party favors and thematic decor? I hate that shit.

If only my kids could have those effortlessly festive summer birthdays. We could throw a BBQ, spend the afternoon at the pool, go to a park.. Hell, we could just go totally retro and just have kids come to our house for cake and ice cream. But no, our winter house has a maximum capacity of about 8 people otherwise we are all sitting on each others' laps. Hosting a February or March party means standing awkwardly against a wall trying to flatten ourselves so that the whirlwind of kids can pass by without contact. Yelling to the person standing two feet away from you over the shrieking gaggle of partying children. I got a headache just typing that last sentence.

I did make the executive decision that our birthday banner needed an upgrade. Despite our best efforts to raise them in a utopian character-free cave, my kids are all about action figures and commercial decor. Mom's sewing + Star Wars fabric = compromise. Clementine woke me up at 5am so that I could finish our new Star Wars banner in time for the birthdays.

Sawyer's birthday would be easy. He really only has one friend and all he wanted was a trip to the arcade for some pinball and cupcakes. We extended his party to include dinner out and frozen yogurt with friends, mostly because I didn't feel like cooking that night.

I wonder if I will ever have a picture of one of my kids blowing out the birthday candles NOT surrounded by beer glasses. I doubt it.

Jack's party was going to be the challenge. You will recall that Jack was a total punk on his actual birthday and pretty much ruined our weekend in Sunriver. So I think it would have been totally fair to skip the friend party and chalk the whole thing up as a valuable life lesson, something along the lines of don't fuck with Mom and Dad. But then I was at a silent auction fundraiser and I lowballed a gift certificate for a kid's party at Kick City, our local indoor soccer field, and I won!

I have been deliberately keeping a low profile at Jack's school since I want them to think that I am incompetent so they don't ask me to room parent or run a table at a rummage sale or count laps at a jog-a-thon or anything like that. It's actually been pretty easy to take a backseat and leave the driving to all of those SAHMs who have perfect teeth, limitless enthusiasm, and timeshares in Cabo. And I figure they are doing a fine job organizing the class parties and chaperoning the field trips so why mess with a good thing? But this also means that I don't know the other parents, and so when Jack was concocting his guest list for the soccer birthday party, I realized that I would need to somehow maintain my illusion of incompetence when it comes to classroom volunteer activities while simultaneously assuring them that future playdates at my house would be just fine under my supervision.

(Not that anyone should want to come to a playdate at our house. Jack's friend was over today and he came out to the living room announcing, "I think Jack needs to take a nap.")

I am happy to tell you that the party was a success! They came, a coach led a lengthy loosely-soccer-related set of activities while the grown ups poured beers, we handed each kid a juice box and a cupcake, there was a blizzard of wrapping paper and balloons, then everybody went home.

Jack requested a snack spread of yogurt covered pretzels, Cheetos (I bought the "natural" kind because compromise), and grapes.

Little did we know that Grandpa Curt's parked motorcycle would be the highlight of the afternoon. Next year everybody gets their birthday party in a parking lot.

Birthday in a parking lot? Mother, please. I'll be having the neon-pink-super-princess-ballerina-build-a-bear-tea-party.

At least I'll have the summer to prepare.


  1. LOL, I am sure that you don't give yourself enough credit, I also have always felt that I was the child's worst party planner/thrower. However my children are grown and still talk about their parties growing up so I think maybe we just think we didn't do enough but we really did. Well that is what I have convinced myself anyway.

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