Birthday shenanigans

One of the more highly anticipated events of the year for the preschool set took place today. Indeed, the Mini-Puddinette has been talking, and talking, and talking about it for months. Actually, she started talking about it matter-of-factly long before her mother and I even considered the possibility of hosting such a soiree. I suppose we can all take a lesson in the power of positive thinking from my five year-old.

Today, finally, the time her grand 5 year-old birthday party arrived. And there was much rejoicing!

So. In the past, I might have subtly questioned the strange proliferation of organized, offsite birthday parties for kids nowadays that typically include many friends as well as family. All but one of my childhood birthday parties took place at home and never included anyone but siblings and whatever cousins happened to be available for the event. As I was a child with a relatively limited set of social skills, I will concede that, at the time, I might have been less than enthusiastic about having to deal with, what I considered, distant relatives more likely to torment me than celebrate my day.

I’ve clearly been destined for computer work for a long time.

Anyway, the point here is that back when I was a boy, you didn’t get no fancy birthday party with your real friends and high falutin’ activities but maybe once your whole childhood (in my case, 10 years old, Chuck E. Cheese). Typically, you got to pick the kind of cake Mom would bake, and if you were lucky, you might be able influence the menu; many variables went into that, though, such as sales, coupons, and the market price of potatoes. There was no use asking for a roast when the chicken was $0.99 a pound.

At any rate, it turns out I was wrrrrrrr…..um…..wrrrrrronnnn…..uh….I might have misspoken. Offsite birthday parties for young kids are like, The Best Thing Ever. We did the Mini-Puddinette’s party at a local place that does laser tag and has a big room full of inflatable bouncy stuff. Obviously, given her age, the laser tag wasn’t really option, but the kids had a blast being semi-weightless for an hour. We were then brought to our party room where the consumption of much cake took place, followed by the opening of gifts.

I can’t say enough how much easier this was for my life than previous birthday adventures. The place appointed us a “party coach”, whose sole task for the time we were there was to keep our party rolling through all the checkpoints a child’s birthday party should include. Playtime, cake time, gift time, whatever. She kept the clock, she cut the cake, she wrote the damned guest gift list. All we had to do was follow her lead, help out when necessary, and take pictures.

The thing is, events at home are stressful, no matter who is on the guest list. The cake got ruined, huh? Guess who gets the blame. Burnt chicken? That sucks; looks like someone’s making a run to KFC for 30 people – cha-ching! Twenty kids under the age of 9 in your house? Pass the bourbon and hide the cat. And that doesn’t even touch on the 36 hours of house cleaning you have to do before you can have your family over. Sure, sure, family is family, and supposedly not company, but that apparently doesn’t mean you provide them with dirty toilets. Who knew?

The birthday party today was an unqualified success, and I’m sold on the benefits of taking the party on the road. Next time though, two words: full bar.

Pud’n