All activities I plan for kids either go way too fast, leaving hours of chaos, or they bomb. I had a piñata for my son’s birthday once, and the first boy angrily wailed on it until it opened. Once, I devised a “Pin the Tail on an Animal” game for my daughter’s 5th birthday party, where I made different tails for the animal body (pig tail, lion tail, fish tail, etc.), and gave each child a different one. But...they argued about whose tail was best and they all cheated and looked under their blindfold. I didn’t have enough prizes for 10 winners. Then they “booed” me.
My daughter, Krista, recently begged me to host a slumber party for her and 5 friends. I’ve been doing birthday parties for YEARS and YEARS. The ‘gut-feeling’ gremlin inside my stomach and the angel/devil on each of my shoulders were, for a change, all in agreement regarding the potential gaggle of girls and my not-so-confident captainship:
“Don’t do it. They’ll eat you alive...again,” they prodded in unison.
After much resistance, the party was scheduled and Krista invited several guests:
Folded-Arms Girl - wouldn’t participate in any of the 3 Ms (music, movies or makeup)
Painfully-Shy Girl - wouldn’t speak to anyone but my daughter
Passed-Out Girl – slept through everything past 8 pm, even my “Do you want me to call your mother?” reputation-tarnishing question delivered at 3:30 am, when ‘Folded-Arms Girl’ became rambunctious with a microwave popcorn bag on her head.
Overly-Sensitive Girl - wept twice (I still don’t know why), and bawled when ‘Painfully-Shy Girl’ spilled orange soda on a corner of her sleeping bag.
The Godfather - The pinkie-to-her lips “Dr. Evil”, who rallied the girls to her side and performed a coup. She even took over control of my dog.
One of the main activities was the “Decorate your Own Cupcake” course. ‘Folded-Arms Girl’ really got into this activity, and instead of making her cupcake pretty, started a contest amongst the other girls of “Who can pile up the most frosting?” ‘Painfully-Shy Girl’ took one bite of her cupcake mountain and ran to the bathroom...for 20 minutes. When I tapped on the door and said:
“Are you o.k.?” three times, each with increasingly urgency, she finally, meekly, squeaked out, “I’m fine.”
The high-octane cupcake sugar fueled “The Godfather,” who avoided all planned fun, enlisting our dog in “Attention/At East” exercises. At one point the dog slipped me a note that said, “Help me.” I sent one back that read, “Hey—tonight it’s every animal for herself. Bite her if you want.”
Following dog obedience, “The Godfather’ returned to the group, coaxed the girls into smearing the colored frosting all over their faces, like war paint. Visions of “Lord of the Flies” danced in my head. Even Krista fell under the influence of the dark side. Even Krista.
I, the living embodiment of the “Survivor” theme--outwitted and outplayed and outlasted, have given up on birthday parties. I’ll pay anyone, anything to do it for me next time.
Idea: Serve turkey, dressing and large quantities of cabbage—stuff that will make them SLEEPY.
Important Frosting Tip: Colored, decorator frosting available in tube form....STAINS skin.