Does anyone really enjoy kids’ birthday parties? I mean really? We have to do them. It’s our job as mothers and family. We have to get out the crepe paper and balloons, send out the cute invitations, order the cake, and make the “happy birthday” signs. But, I am not even sure the kids really even enjoy a party.
Today we had a party for both of my sons. Jeffrey is four, and Eric is two. Now, since we are at the grandparents, they are already all hepped up on goof-balls, and what do we do? We invite lots of friends and kids over, plan it for the late afternoon, give everyone lots of sugar, and mix with new toys that no one wants to share; it sounds so good on paper!
Well, the the party was actually ok. My mom and step-dad went to a lot of work to make it nice, we barbecued, and the kids had a slip-and-slide in the backyard, and the weather was the afore-mentioned perfect 73 degree afternoon. Everyone who came was either family or close enough friends to qualify as family, so at least we were all comfortable around one another. Note: comfortable does not always mean great buddies, but I won’t speculate on who doesn’t like whom yet… Suffice it to say that living far away gives me fresh eyes for folks I have know much of my life!
Now, I am not good at parties. For a variety of reasons, I am just awkward and gawky, and I never know what to do with my body, but I wanted to have this party for my kids. Today was about giving my kids happy childhood memories, making birthdays fun, and making the grandparent’s the place where good things happen.
The reality is, for some reason, it was hotter than Hades in my mom’s house. Sweltering is what comes to mind, and I hate to sweat. Sweating makes me crabby and mad. So I tried to stay outside in the shade as much as possible. But, I also felt the requisite guilt about all the work my mom was doing; so, while trying to avoid being hot, keeping my kids from killing each other (or worse, someone else) and being properly social, I was chopping stinky onions in hell’s kitchen.
No one except Eric, the baby, would go on the slip-and-slide that my step-dad had carefully set up. We did not make enough hot dogs or hamburgers, (but the devilled eggs were really good) and the cake we got from Costco was ugly and looked nothing like the picture. Jeffrey tore through his gifts with the speed and care of a boy-hurricane, and I have no idea whom to thank for what. Eric opened one present, from my dad; it was a sticky ball-thingy that stretched and squished and he didn’t open anything else. He only played with the stretchy-squish thing. At least I have his cards and some idea who to thank.
Icing and little kids is always a riot- if you don’t have to clean them up. After everyone ate lots of sugar and icing, the boys decided to fight over the squishyball thing, and lots of crying and tears and yelling ensued, sprinkled intermittently with laughter and happiness. They won’t remember tomorrow that they hated each other today.
After everyone left the real fun began. Getting the kids ready for bed while they are high on inhuman amounts of sugar, pressure washing the frosting and ketchup from the patio, cleaning up the hellishly hot kitchen, and trying not to feel like I am a massive disappointment to my mom. Coming home is so much fun!
My kids will remember this as a happy day. I will never tell them otherwise, but someday, when they have kids of their own, they will exhaustedly look at me, and they will know. And I will sit in the shade and smile.