yalandarose

May 13, 2011

Birthday Parties Are No Piece of Cake!

Filed under: children — Tags: , , — yalandarose @ 6:42 pm

Out of bed on a Saturday morning, I grabbed my chore list planned on a not-much-happening Friday night.  Clean my car, mop my floors, run some errands.  What I hadn’t planned, but now needed to address, was learning the complicated politics of children’s birthday parties.

The sheer amount of papers my child brings home from school has my Mazda’s floorboards littered like a big city sidewalk.  While purging my car of paper, stickers and melted candies, I came across an invitation-sized envelope labeled with my daughter’s name.

“Guess who’s turning 6?” It read with enough details about where Jeremy lived, how to reach him and what he liked that I could have stolen his identity, but I still didn’t have a clue.  Jeremy –  a boy?  I wasn’t even aware that my preschool daughter even had boy – friends?

“Hi.” I introduced myself awkwardly to Jeremy’s dad on the phone as if we had just started going steady. “My daughter was invited to your son’s birthday party this afternoon.  It’s a long, messy story, but I just found about the party today…is it too late?”

“No, we’d love to have you, come join the fun!” Why did I have the feeling that his response should have been followed by a big fat NOT!

My daughter’s only 4, so my experience is minimal in planning and attending kids’ birthday parties, and because she wasn’t blessed with a fraternal twin brother, I have zero experience in picking out boy items. It seems easy enough on the surface.  If girls like princesses, shouldn’t boys like princes?  Hmm, maybe I should think this through.  Oh well, I’ll have to contemplate this later, I still have 2 more items on my list.

Three hours later and an hour before the “fun” starts, I’m studying the toys on the shelves like the names on a memorial wall.  A toy I would have deemed appropriate for a 6-year-old boy wasn’t among those listed. I still lacked peace of mind.

Thirty minutes to fun time, I grabbed what I thought was an age-appropriate gift -an educational card game with a squishy toy on top. Well, let’s just hope shopping for the gift bag is going to be easier.

It was. A dark blue tote that screamed ‘energetic big boy’ with the words “YOU ROCK!” emblazoned across.  I completed the look with black and gray tissue paper to create the smoky effect similar to when rockers appear on stage.

In the parking lot of Party Central, I started doubting my gift. I really didn’t know what Jeremy liked or what he even looked like, so I opted not to put our names on the gift tag. Besides, I reasoned, with all the other gifts he was sure to get, mine would get lost in the shuffle anyway.

“For the birthday boy!” I announced handing the bag over like a bottle of wine at a dinner party to whom I assumed was Jeremy’s dad.

“Wow! What an awesome bag!  Honey, look at this!”  Jeremy’s dad said, summoning over his wife.

“Oh wow! Jeremy’s going to love this!” Jeremy’s mom agreed placing it in front of the other gifts.

Uh-oh.  There goes my logic of the crappy gift getting lost in the shuffle. I’m going to pay more for this gift than I did in the store.

After the games, cake, and candles, it was now time for Jeremy to cover the floor with wrapping paper and empty gift bags.

Thanks to my ego-boosting YOU ROCK bag complete with the smoky effect, I lowered my head as he raised my gift up for the birthday guests to see.

“Daddy, what is it?” Jeremy said as if he had just found a rusty doodad in the backyard.

It’s a…I don’t know son.” Jeremy’s dad attempted to answer as he passed the gift to his wife.

“Well, it’s a…um…”Jeremy’s mom said looking at me, hoping I would finish her sentence. I remained silent as I realized the squishy toy on top made the gift look like a plaything fit for Fido or Spot. Now, all the parents were looking and inwardly wondering how much I paid for the gift. I actually paid $15, but it was clear that it was $14 too much.

Jeremy’s mom handed the gift back to her husband in an impromptu game of Hot Potato, who for a second almost forgot I was standing there because he looked like he wanted to throw the rusty doodad back in the far away backyard.

Jeremy, with his 6-year-old attention span, was now oohing and ahhing over the other gifts he got while his parents remained noticeably silent. No one bothered to break the ice that abruptly chilled the leased party room, so I knew that the other parents were making mental notes to themselves as well.

I hid behind a moon bouncer and pretended to be busy texting on my phone.  I’m an adult playing with imaginary friends.  When this party’s over, I’m going to need therapy.

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