Thursday, January 11, 2007

Confessions by Marion...Birthday Madness

My two youngest will be turning 9 the end of this month. Just when I was finally recovering from my post traumatic Holiday stress syndrome, I am thrust once again into the planning of yet another “Celebration.” Unfortunately, this time the guests are usually much more demanding as to entrees, and entertainment. The tostadas and Gina’s velvetta and chili dip that the moms are quite happy to scarf down with a little chardonnay do not cut it with the pint size gourmand set.
I have been hosting these soirees for the past 13 years, and I have lived to tell the tale. To the uninitiated: DO NOT, I mean never, host this fete in your home! Unless your home has been chosen for the “Extreme Makeover Home Edition” don’t go there.
You will be guaranteed rain that day, and there is no way that your guests remain in the designated area. Small children will swarm over your home, leaving a path of destruction rivaling Sherman’s March on Atlanta. Cabinets and drawers will be inspected by small enquiring minds; you will be critiqued on your home décor, and informed that your house “smells funny.”
The food you serve will not be up to snuff. You either ordered the pizza from the wrong place i.e.: “We don’t eat ABC Pizza at our house; my mom says XYZ’s is much better.” Or “why are we eating chicken fingers when everyone knows I only eat Pizza?” (Sorry kid, never got the memo from your advance people!) There is usually an embarrassing question or two lobbed……
“Gee this house is much smaller then my house, are you poor?” “This house is bigger then my house, are you rich?” The games you lovingly planned, are either ignored, or result in tantrums, when everyone doesn’t win. Call me politically incorrect, but not everyone can win at musical chairs, or bingo. You find yourself looking at your watch, wondering if you have entered a time space warp, and time is actually standing still. It is at this point when you decide, next year we have this shindig off premises.
Oh the choices!!!!!
My first off site party was at one of those indoor playgrounds, with a ball pit, those toddler size hamster tubes, and the bane of most Moms…video games. It looks much better on paper. When mom has to wade into a ball pit, wiggle through a tube, to retrieve a screaming child, or pull the plug on the video token gravy train, it tends to take the polish off the proceedings. You know that the twenty something “party host” (that poor person dressed up as a character, leading the festivities) is rethinking their decision to leave college.
The following year I hosted a party at one of those pottery places. The guests are invited to pick out a plaster statue, then paint and decorate this item to keep as a memento of the wonderful time they had at your child’s party. Lovely idea. Unfortunately they only had six ninja turtles, and we had eight ninja turtle fans. Oh what budding little artists. They painted the statue, the table, and each other. Try explaining that to the mother of the Gene Simmons look a like, when she shows up to retrieve her little angel.
I also tried doing the miniature golf outing. Be warned, little golf clubs become lethal weapons in the hands of second graders! Ditto for batting cages.
My favorite of the birthday bashes was the laser tag party. At this event the children play two rounds of laser tag, are fed pizza, soda, and ice cream birthday cake, and then sent home. Neat, virtually painless, two thumbs up from the guests, and I was able to get a pretty good interest rate on the second mortgage that was needed to pay for it.
The common denominator at all of these parties, be it at home or out, is the goody bag, the child’s swag, or as I call it “the bag o’ crap.” I don’t know where or when, or more importantly why this tradition was started. (Although I have a sneaking suspicion it was invented by the good people at Oriental trading company) A small remembrance is given to each guest, at your child’s party. This is the area that is most severely critiqued. Irregardless of the fact that the life expectancy of the contents are about 24 hours. Most take homes consist of small trinkets, such as tattoos, yoyos, bubbles, and penny candies. (As if such a thing exits anymore) I personally try to toss in a few miniature snickers or milky ways for the chauffeurs (moms) to snack on, as they bring home their sugar hyped offspring. If you can’t beat em, join em. Woe to the host if such offerings are overlooked. The departing guests will hunt you down like a dog….”I’m leaving now, where’s my bag?” The bag is then rifled through, and an opinion is rendered immediately. You will be informed if your bag is substandard, (Billy had way better stuff at his party) or OK…which by the way is two thumbs up…way up!
Before I get started planning this year’s extravaganza, one more word to the wise…book early. It is easier to get the Plaza for a wedding, then a slot at the local Birthday’s R us!
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