Have you hosted that kiddie birthday party yet? It’s the one on the coldest day of winter when parents offload their progeny at the door of Zombiezoopalooza and wave bye-bye.
You’re the host saying, “Hi hi!”
It’s kindergarten and, like the 100-Day project looming ahead in Grade 1, there seem to be 100 guests. Plus the banshee swinging from the coatrack. Naturally, all the boots and mitts look identical and they all get tossed by young social-beings-in-training who just want to have fun RIGHT NOW. Who knew those snow trekkers from Costco could serve as projectile weapons?
Still, weren’t you clever to hold this special event at a designated party destination? You haven’t had to clean the house, worry about soda pooling on your hardwood floors or evacuate the dog until further notice. Your mission and your mantra are the same: “All done in three hours or less.”
As a keener, you have adopted a party strategy seldom discovered until Grade 3 or Kid #2. Bravo!
But they are cute, aren’t they, these pint-sized partiers? Their indoor shoes have Velcro straps, their pants (at least some of them) have elastic at the back and their hands and faces have been scrubbed in party-anticipation.
Sure, it might have been a moment of parental weakness (or a death wish) when, after all the crying and gnashing of teeth, you agreed to the young’un’s request to invite the whole class. What a perfect opportunity, you thought, to model inclusion and tolerance.
Oooh. Is there a dark stain growing on that child’s pants?
Er … what is the little one over there doing under the table with the lighter from a stranger’s purse? LIGHTER?
There seems to have been a slight miscalculation. When you sent out 20 invitations, you may not have accounted for 20 mouths + 40 arms + 40 legs in action at the same time. This is when the mantra becomes your audible chant: “All done in three hours or less.”
After the games, rides, jungle gym, glo-in-the-dark bowling and the curious incident with the plant in the corner, you all but have this shindig in the (loot) bag. Just Food, Cake and Presents are left on the To-Do List. Once again, you’re glad to be leaving the party arrangements to the experts.
There’ll be no boiled hotdogs for this crowd. Each kid gets a pizza slice, either pepperoni or cheese. And there’ll be no old fashioned, homemade layer cake with coins wrapped in waxed paper tucked between the layers. The cake is provided by the venue. It’s a slab of vanilla, uniformly frosted, and it comes in a tinfoil pan. Instead of six scrawny candles, there’s one sturdy number lit aflame (and, thus, much less risk of flaming kids).
The singing of Happy Birthday is an exuberant affair. As one worldly vocalist starts with, “May you live a hundreds years …” you forget to use your indoor voice while yelling, “Time for presents!”
That’s when the fun starts. Gift-giving appears to have been another miscalculation. In the flurry, certain small, now-less-than-clean hands can’t seem to keep themselves from tearing into the still-wrapped prezzies. Meanwhile, the guest of honour is growing drippy-eyed and trembly-mouthed. It is a look that usually leads to full-tilt wailing.
Aghast, you snatch a gift bag from the clutches of The Ripper and hand it over to Junior, the Party King. Instantly, his face is transformed as he sees what’s beneath the coloured tissue. “A GUN SET,” he crows gleefully, waving the forbidden treasure in the air for all to see.
You are done now.