Moms Talk: Party Training
A bird's eye view into children's birthday parties
I had always envisioned a huge birthday extravaganza for my twins when they turned a year old. I’m talking pony rides led by circus acrobats, a manic rendition of "Happy Birthday" led by all four Wiggles, and couture baby favors in vintage Valentino diaper bags.
But alas, my dream was obliterated when a close family member planned her wedding that same week and had the gall to ask my husband and me to participate. Not only could I not have my (uh, their) birthday party, but I had to wear a shiny red bridesmaid dress that literally spotlighted all the areas of my lingering baby weight. (Can you still call it baby weight a year after the birth? How about ten years after? Maybe we’ll save that for another discussion.)
I planned to make it up to them (me) by hosting an epic birthday bash for their second birthday, but by then I was just too dang tired. At two, those boys were running full tilt all over the place, and I, as the mother, was obligated to give chase. We were also preparing to move out of state and I was in the process of dismantling the entire house into tiny boxes. (How was it that despite being so crazy busy, I still had all this baby weight? Definitely, another article.) Still, I put in a good effort. I decided on an English tea party for the adults and Sesame Street themed entertainment for the multitude of toddlers attending. I whipped up cheddar and chive scones from scratch and feverishly shredded chicken for the chicken salad with almonds. For party favors, I made homemade play dough in red AND blue. I even made my poor husband wander around sightless for an hour in an ill-fitting, knock-off Big Bird suit. Ask anyone who attended the party and I’m sure they’ll gleefully describe the moment we gathered all the kids at the front bay window to watch as my game spouse (pun absolutely intended), all decked out in seven feet of yellow feathers and size fifty-eight bird shoes, blindly stumbled around the corner of the house clutching a bundle of 30 balloons. He immediately ran into the one and only tree in the whole yard, cursed loudly and inappropriately, and lost half the balloons along with one of his bulging Styrofoam eyes. The deafening, high pitched, collective scream of ten, terrified, terrible-twofers (say that three times fast) will be imbedded in my brain forever. I am sure my children will spend hours on a professional’s couch some day trying to figure out why the color yellow sends them into a panic.
After that party ran afoul (yep, intended) we limited future birthday parties to smaller family affairs where the boys each chose their own cake and dinner menu. As they grew older we let them include a friend or two for a movie or pizza. This past year we decided to start a new tradition. My children were born in December and so instead of a traditional birthday party, we invited a large group of their friends over for a holiday gift exchange. Each child brought one age-appropriate gift and at the end of the night they drew numbers from a hat and grabbed the coordinating gift from under the tree. It was a hit. Of course, 15 eleven-year-old boys in my house at one time created no small amount of anxiety, but it was nothing a few glasses of wine and the support of the fellow moms who stayed with me couldn’t fix. Everyone left with a gift and a smile. I didn’t have to make play dough and no animals (especially big yellow ones) were harmed in the making of this party.
So what do you think?