Wednesday, May 11, 2005

My First Attempt at A Birthday Party

Michele had a good discussion about a week ago about children’s birthday parties that go out of control – themed parties, the cost of some of them being in the five-figure range.

While I don’t believe in throwing overpriced parties for our kids, I maintain that a lot of planning and organization need to go into your child’s birthday party. Otherwise, it may turn out like the one we had at our house three years ago.

It was our first year as homeowners, and I decided, for the first time, to have I12’s birthday party at our house. The main reason behind this was that I12 had very few friends, and most of the birthday places have a “minimum number of guests” you have to pay for. There was no way I12 could meet the minimum friend requirements. So, we decided to have it at our house instead of a bowling alley or a roller rink. I didn’t know how to organize kids’ parties, so I asked around for advice. I was told to order a pizza, buy soda and ice cream, and let things take their natural course. (This actually works well with older kids.)

I don’t remember how many kids we invited, but only two showed up. One boy, whose Mom is a best friend of my cousin’s, and another kid that lived on our street. So we had a total of four kids, age six (K9), eight (Family Friend Kid), nine (the birthday boy), and ten (Boy Next Door).

I don’t remember a lot of details about the party. The kids were pretty quiet. The pizza came and we all sat down in the dining room.

Did I mention that I12’s social skills are nothing to write home about?

When the guests were halfway through their pizza, the birthday boy got up, and, announcing, “Gotta go poop”, walked out of the dining room. He came back five minutes later, and continued eating. I was sitting at the table, dying of embarrassment.

The kids played a little, then I got the cake out. We sat down again, to eat cake. Boy Next Door asked I12, “Where’s your Dad?”

Now I need to tell you that Mr. Goldie has this den where he stays most of the time. He has everything he needs there – TV, computer, couch, bathroom, bottled water. He hardly ever needs to come out. So, he hardly ever does.

In a very casual voice, I12 replied, “They’re divorced, he doesn’t live here anymore”, and went on eating.

Boy Next Door wasn’t, as far as I could tell, surprised, but Family Friend Kid definitely was! He’d seen Mr. Goldie many times at various family get-togethers and he couldn’t believe that Mr. Goldie had just up and walked out on his lovely wife and two beautiful kids. His jaw dropped, his eyes lit up. I could picture him breaking the news to his parents as soon as he got home.

“He does live here! We aren’t divorced!” – I squeaked, but Family Friend Kid didn’t look like he believed me.

After the cake, the kids went downstairs to play darts. After a few minutes of that, I faked a serious dart board malfunction and went to get Mr. Goldie. He came out of the den, fixed the dart board, and went back. Of course, the board wasn’t really that badly broken. The purpose of it all was to show the guests that I was, in fact, still happily married.

Before we knew it, the two hours were up, and the guests left. In my embarrassment, I forgot to give them their gift bags. We never saw Boy Next Door again. He still lives on our street, but he avoids us like the plague.

I resolved to plan the next party better, and I did. It was, again, I12’s party, we invited ten kids, six showed up, I did two activities, and a good time was had by all. A friend of mine helped me control the kids. She was a high school teacher and Assistant Principal in the past, and it still shows. The kids were in awe of her. The party was a success, so I decided to move on to K9, who is friends with his whole elementary school and, on top of that, still hangs out with a few guys from his old daycare. For his eighth birthday, we had fourteen kids, the party went without a hitch. Next year, fourteen kids again. I have it all worked out by now. I start planning two weeks in advance; I make a project plan (seriously!), I keep all party-related paperwork in a folder; I plan the actual party by fifteen-minute intervals; I have learned not to use toy guns as prizes, as some parents don't allow them, and never, ever to use squirt guns as prizes at a February birthday party. In short, I’ve gotten good. Hire me (naw, just kidding – two parties a year is enough for me).

But I still forget to hand out the gift bags.

The Goldie has spoken at 4:32 PM

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