My daughter went to a birthday party today. Which, for the parent, is really just a bunch of errands. Unfortunately, the unwritten rule is: you come to mine and I’ll come to yours. So if you want your own kid’s party to have guests, you have to pay the piper.
So I load my daughter and sons in the car and head to the bookstore for the gift card gift; the best shopping invention ever. I drive 25 minutes. I fortify my spine to not allow my two year old out of the stroller and in the Thomas the Train section which always ends in tears. I’m assuming Barnes and Noble is trying to help. They aren’t.
As I am turning into the shopping plaza I hear a tiny little boy voice in the back saying, “I forgot my shoes.” “What? What’s that?” “I forgot my shoes.” “And how many freaking times…” “That’s a bad word.” “How many times have I told you not to get in the car without shoes?” Silence.
The party is in 30 minutes. I need the gift, shoes or not. I search the car for strewn socks and find a pair of dirty pink ones. “That’s it, you are wearing your sister’s socks because you can’t go in bare footed.” “Mom, they’re pink” “Maybe next time you’ll remember your shoes, fancy feet.” “Don’t call me fancy feet.”
In the store I send my daughter to get the book she wants for herself and tell her to meet me and her brothers at the café. While waiting for my Americano I see my son trying to balance one foot on top of the other, presumably to minimize the exposed surface area of pink on his feet. What he doesn’t seem to realize is his continual foot motion is having the opposite desired effect and people are starting to stare. I am now the mother of the boy with the pink socks, sans shoes. “How about you push your brother’s stroller?.” “Why?” “To hide your fancy feet.” “MOM!”
We get the birthday card (hooray for one stop shopping) and the gift card with a free gift box (hooray for not having to pay for a gift bag or wrapping paper) and move on out. I use GPS to find the place and as usual go a way I would never go but don’t want to deviate from because I don’t have time to be lost.
I drop off my girl, go home for an hour, go back out for my girl, hustle her in the car and boom 4 hours of errands for 2 hours of party for 1/3 of my children. And for the grand finale: whining all the way home from the kids who did not get to attend the party and therefore have no goodie bag.
Lest I sound ungrateful that my daughter was invited to a party, I would like to firmly assert my gratitude for what the birthday girl’s mother had to go through for said party to occur. The decorations and the food and the goodie bags and the cleaning and the worry of who will or won’t show up. I myself have completely out of proportion anxiety about the idea of birthday parties at my home. Coming up with the right food, the right activities, the right take home gifts, the right invitations, the right decorations, the right house (which I can’t change but still worry about)… it’s overwhelming. But what really gets me going is the nagging fear of the children being *gasp* bored.
Up to this point I’ve only done parties at places that provide the entertainment. As I began having more children, however, I started recognizing the multiplier effect. Which is to say, the cost of any party is annualized at 300%. My initial response was to stop having birthday parties altogether. My children have revolted. The time has come for an at home party.
And who did I turn to in this time of crisis? The Guru, of course, who is party planning for me 350 miles away. She’s got mad skills.
So the invitations, aka errand requests, are mailed and I am committed. If some of the moms just can’t bring themselves to give up yet another Saturday afternoon to take their kid to my daughter’s party, I understand. But, if none of them come, well, I know where they live.
I like to throw things.