Is anything more exciting for kids than a birthday party? Think of it: candy, games, prizes, and free cake. For one afternoon, you get to eat junk food, burp at will, and forget you know what manners are. Molly and Andy, my two young progeny, were recently invited to the birthday party of our friend’s one-year-old son. Andy had his hair carefully brushed, and Molly was wearing her favorite party dress as we trundled along in our minivan. “Now remember, you two, we’re gonna be on our best behavior, right?” Two angelic faces nodded their agreement, and my husband Jeremy and I were optimistic. I was just excited to get out of the house! Jeremy had convinced me to put a dress on, despite my insistence that my “fancy” sweatpants were suitable (fancy because they were clean).
We arrived at the party, and the kids tumbled out of the van and disappeared like they were in the witness protection program. I found Andy knee deep in a flower bed, with suspicious dirt stains around his mouth. After dusting him off, I planted him in front of the food table, and his pupils dilated with delight. Cookies, chips, and juice were all beautifully arranged, and he vibrated with glee as I gathered him some snacks. He ate like a hyena: mouth wide open, crumbs spraying everywhere, both fists cramming goodies into his mouth. I desperately wiped his face, lest the other parents think this was his first time seeing food!
Jeremy and I met up in the garden, where Molly was carefully shoveling sand into her shoes. We’d only been at the party for thirty minutes, and both kids needed to be dry-cleaned! Was there a rain barrel we could rinse them off in? Groan. The birthday boy was soon given a small homemade cake, which he happily smashed and smeared on his chubby face. The kids ate their slices with the ferocity of tiger sharks. I spent the next hour coaxing Andy out of the drink cooler, while Molly cannonballed into the sandpit.
Mercifully, it was soon time to leave. Despite their protests, we loaded the kids into the van and made a quick exit. “Was that fun?” I asked, looking at their cake-smeared, joyful faces. “Yeahh!!!!” they yelled back, babbling about the balloons and toys and snacks. After arriving home and hosing them off in the tub, Molly and Andy were tucked into bed with tummies full of sugar. I wondered if all the sweets would keep them awake, but I shouldn’t have — they passed out cold within minutes and slept all night. Jeremy and I were able to relax in peace, and eat the cake slices I’d smuggled home in my purse. Hey, maybe we should go to parties every week: that way, I might get 12 hours of silence!