No Getting Out Of It
It is time to throw our son a bonafide birthday party.
For the first 6 years of his life, we were able to get by with the simple "family" party, consisting of us, any available grandparents or close family friends, and the staples of pizza, cake, some streamers thrown up here and there, and presents.
Last year, we thought we were cooked, but as he was just getting adjusted to kindergarten and had no real friends yet, we were able to stave off the inevitable for another year. In the mean time, he has found a nice group of first graders to play with and, more importantly, has seen the glories of a "friend" birthday party. The games! The presents! The theme place settings! The small sacks of cheap plastic dinosaurs or cars or superballs.
Together, Charles and I laid the ground rule: Only 6 invitees (party of 8, counting him and his sister). He came up with his list of who he wanted to come, and it was a good list, comprising his good friends and the neighbor kid, who also is friends with a couple of his friends. Nice boys, all; one of whom just had a party a few weeks ago and had invited Colin. Invitations sent, party paraphenalia purchased for 8, of a Star Wars theme. (Yes, yes. I am wholly aware I am part of the problem of tacky, merchandised birthday ick. I am also supremely lazy and hate throwing parties. Show me a shortcut and I will shell out. We had actually thought to hold the whole damn thing at a place called (shudder) Gymfinity, which specializes in kids' parties in a gymnastics and tumbling arena, but were too lazy to actually book the damn thing until too late.)
Last night, as Charles and I came in the door, kids at the table finishing dinner, with Lilian, (Charles's mom), Colin drops his bombshell.
Seems he has "invited" a large handful of extra kids to his birthday party, many of whom he really doesn't care for, including the kid who is always messing with his stuff on the bus, not in a malicious way, just in an annoying way. Charles and I look at each other to make sure we are on the same page, namely the page titled "No Way In Hell, Kiddo". We explain that he has already given us his list of friends. We have planned for that number and sent out the Darth Vader invitations. The Darth Vader plates, cups, napkins all come in packs of 8. The party favors have been bought in 8s. We are sure not going back to that damn party store a second time.
Lilian, bless her heart, doesn't get it. She thinks it is a matter of space and volunteers for us to hold it in the Green Room. We nix that thought and move on.
[Obligatory aside: Lilian lives with us for half the week and in her apartment in the village old-folks community the rest of the time. Attached to her building is The Green Room, a bleak room reminiscent of a small school cafeteria, complete with cafeteria tables, linoleum in beige, and, for some reason, a decrepit exercycle facing the corner. It is not green, but gray and tan. I think it is called The Green Room as there is a table with a few spindly, anemic plants by the window.]
Later that night, the whole imagined scene of the Green Room Birthday Party penetrates our mutual consciousness: We could have a pinata made of Depends, with a cane to crack it open. It could spill chocolate Ex-Lax and Tums. We could play "Name That Pill" and take bets on which neighbor would call to complain about the noise first. Walker races and a prune tossing contest, of course. Sensibly, Charles reasoned that as it would be the world's worst kid's birthday venue, it would likely get us shunned for years on the birthday party circuit, so maybe it was worth re-considering. I'm not sure I'm ready to go quite that far to get out of future kid parties, but reserve judgment until afterward.
[Obligatory disclaimer: If the above offends you, I apologize and respectfully request you skip off to one of the many other non-sarcastic blogs out there. I love and respect old folks but reserve the right to be stereotypical if it suits me. Plus, I have known many who fit all the above.]
So there. The date is set (12/17, his actual birthday) and the clock is ticking. The only way to halt the process would be to call each parent and cancel, and as I will do practically anything to avoid calling people on the phone, especially people I don't know, you know that's not going to happen.
We have planned to have pizza and pop to start things off, followed by cake and ice cream. Then the presents. That should take up at least an hour, leaving us with one more hour to fill with the dreaded party games. Oh, how I hate party games. My hatred of them led me to refuse all baby showers. Well, that and loathing the whole "center of attention" thing. We will devise a treasure hunt in the house where they will have to follow a series of clues to find the hidden treasure chest. I just need to come up with, say, 2 more games. I'm thinking one could be the lame-o one where you pin a picture of something on the back of each kid and they have to ask questions to figure it out.
Any other ideas?
Labels: The Small-Handed Ones