Tuesday, February 17, 2009

a birthday

There comes a time in a mama's life when she looks at her son's birthday cake, made without benefit of egg, dairy, peanut, tree nut, sesame, any number of legumes (but with soy), wheat, rye, barley, spelt, kiwi or a range of unlikely squashes, and say to herself: wow.
And then, as the last lick of frosting is swirled on, the sprinkles sprinkled, she looks again and thinks, eeewwww. I just took a perfectly nice cake, and covered it in congealed fat and sugar. Gross.

(forcible eviction of the nutrition police from neural pleasure centers)*********************************
We had a birthday party this past Sunday, a patiently awaited rerun after a snowy non-birthday party. As you can imagine, we have a formula for our birthday parties, and it's served us well for years. The Eldest is allowed one friend per year, plus cousins (a necessary compromise), and he is given a budget for choosing crafts or activities. This year he did especially well, choosing activities that would appeal to his guests, as well as to the Eldest himself.

We had: make your own foam airplanes, build a paper drum and beading. And of course, the kids could start off the party by decorating their gift bags, aka craft repositories. I figured that the airplanes would give the kids running and throwing time, the drums would be moderately loud and silly, and the beads would offer a quiet corner. One cake, three kinds of hummus, many many carrot sticks and melons later, we had ourselves a party.

Things went beautifully for about twenty minutes, and then:


Delighted by an anti-craft ringleader, the boys formed a pack, rampaging through the place. Would it be too sissy to break out the vacuum cleaner? wondered the Man. Glitter, markers, paper, beads, broken drums, cushions, and Rubix cubes littered the floor, while I grinned at the kid wrestling futilely with a newly childlocked cabinet. Take that, you whippersnapper. The kid growled, and set up a screeching contest.

In a corner, two children sat, one carefully designing a drum for her brother. The other drew a picture of a castle, beset by dragons. When the pack roared in, artists looked stricken. I shrugged and grabbed a memory of my first grade teacher, a terrifying woman with no sense of humor. Grinning fiercely, Mrs J swept the pack through the hall, while the artists breathed a sigh of relief.

We regrouped briefly, placating the mob with cake and fruit, until one of the artists turned traitor. With twenty minutes to go, the artists helped the pack make war banners, build roadblocks, and assemble a strategic plan of attack while the adults huddled in the kitchen, wondering. One kindly soul decided to offer fair warning to the enemy, like so:

As the parents arrived, I happily sent them into the war zone to retrieve their children.

Now, I admitted, I understand why people shell out for birthday parties run by someone else. Somewhere else. With a small bottle of scotch tucked in their bag.

Cripes. But: happy birthday, Eldest, regardless: if a 7th birthday comes with a roar of Independence, well, I can respect that. Just do me a favor and get rid of the caltrops before I have to vacuum, okay?


Jen said...

LOL. 'Twould explain the look on your face when I picked up G. But at some point you'll (quietly, drowned out by the vacuum cleaner's roar of Independence) admit you had fun, right?

Anonymous said...

Love the no grown ups pic...LOL

Miryam, That sounds like the perfect, party.

NO over-stimulated kids hyped up on pizza and coke, bearing quarters,waging war on games, only to leave with a 25 cent prize after spending $10 in quarters (sorry for the horrible run-on sentence, but you get my sentiment here).

It's about common sense and family...

Miryam (mama o' the matrices) said...

Jen, Lois, ya got me. Yep, it was fun. And loud. And occasionally with smallish flying bodies. All in all: good.

Oh, and Jen? believe it or not, I haven't yanked out the vacuum to clean up. I'm kind of enjoying taking a stand myself...