We’re a little more than halfway through this year’s birthday season. I’m limping a bit on the enthusiastic party zeal, but working hard to fake it. No one knows how many times I’ve fondly rememberd the conversation where Boy one said he didn’t want a birthday party this year. No one knows I shed tears wanting him immediately crowned my favourite child when I recall it.
I find strange comforts in the midst of afflictions. Girl two’s birthday party (not to be confused with her family birthday dinner – the math on this is 4 kids x 2 celebrations minus one party thanks to current favourite child = 7 events in just over two months) was an example of this. I didn’t use to serve lunch at parties but it’s a good time killer while you’re looking at your watch to see how many more minutes until the party your child looks forward to all year is over.
I went to buy hot dogs for the party, only to broadsided at the store by my North American-waste-panic, concurrent with my panic about nutrition vs. people eating what feels like fun to them. Illogically, I could deal with the hot dogs themselves, but the thought of white buns instead of whole wheat sent me over the edge. In went the whole wheat buns to my cart. A minute later I was back exchanging them for white. I got them in, then I took them out. After much deliberation, I resolved to buy precisely one package of 8 white buns, come back another day when I was stronger to finish the shopping, and make this the last time I ever bought them. Driving away I pictured future birthday parties and the possibility of blindfolding picky visitors until they had finished eating their proper brown buns.
Of course, I never made it back to the store. The party began. There were 6 children in attendance. Celebrations are about extravagance. I decide to gamble on eight hot dog buns anyway. Some people take chances on cards, some people take chances they can outmaneuver seven year olds. We all have our vices. I sweat, but I do not panic. There’s actually a strange kind of pleasure in the challenge.
I put some fries in the oven. I prepared the hot dogs and cut each one in half. I made a mountain of carrot sticks and apple slices. Each child got a plate with half a hot dog, some fries, and their choice of fruit or veggie. I poured milk and I served slowly. Everyone who asked for seconds was served. Eventually, I brought around seconds until everyone refused more and gave the leftovers to a stray sibling.
The white bread guilt is gone. Party weariness disappeared that day. I served 6 children as much as they wanted with a mere 8 hot dog buns, none of whose pasty whiteness remained on my counter. And yes, there’s a bit of an afterglow just remembering it again.
Following the ancient customs of our people, I am planning a special event which will either be named, Winter Carnival, or, The Surviving Party.
For the opening ceremonies participants will wrap their winter outerwear in neon duct tape while listening to The Beach Boys in my kitchen. While singing a rousing round of, “wish they all could be California girls,” we will form a train and head for the chicken coop. We will drive the chickens from the coop into the sunshine, while serenading them with the chorus from Abba’s Dancing Queen. Participants will be free to dance in pairs or groups, with people or chickens, as the spirit moves them.
Other activities include:
Believe in the Green: guests will gather the ice scrapers from their vehicles and bring them to the garage where they will be painted green. Once dried, they will be planted in the snow symbolizing our belief that spring will come.
Throw it from the Roof : Guests will add non-living items of their choice to a laundry basket to be carried up to the top of the roof and thrown down one by one. (This symbolizes the casting off of winter gloom.) Prior to the first throw, the roofer will lead the observers in a rousing chorus of, “We’re Not Gonna Take It.”
Chef for a Minute: Hot dogs and hamburgers will be available from the barbecue. Only males are eligible for cooking duties as chefs will be expected to cook topless. This symbolizes the determination required to survive the barrenness of winter (not to mention a little justice for the nasty habit of putting men in three piece suits all winter while women shiver in flimsy fashion of the day). Fully winterized spouses may link arms and sing, “it’s the eye of the tiger, it’s the thrill of the fight . . . as encouragement if a chef is waning.
Keep the Party Going: Guests commit to going commando one day a week (each day of the week must be spoken for) until the first buds of spring are visible through the snow. This symbolizes the casting off of winter restrictions. After the solemn commitment, guests may join in singing a chorus of, “Livin on a Prayer.” Whoa, we’re halfway there… take my hand, we’ll make it I swear…
Closing Ceremony: The child most resembling Pippi Longstocking will be placed on the pony’s back. They will be led from the field into the kitchen where the pony will eventually pee in shocking quantity. The result will be a fine symbol of the bitterness of winter. Misty will be given a carrot by Pippi and led back outside while any of her symbols are removed because they are no longer wanted. From the cupboards every guest will receive a pot, pan, or plastic mixing bowl. Beating them loudly we will make our way outside. Still drumming, we will huddle together in a circle and howl at the moon. This will symbolize everything important that we didn’t have time to symbolize before. Any in tears may close with “I Will Survive.”
Date and Time TBA
“Holes In A Shooting Target” by anankkml from freedigitalphotos.net
Boy one inherited his father’s one eye raised about my pioneer leanings. But few boys are immune to the allure of a BB gun. When it was time we got him his own.
He also came pre-programmed with an “adherence to rules” setting (we are still looking for the flexibility button). We knew he would follow “no chickadees,” and safety guidelines carefully and he did. Target practice became a source of great joy.
This brings us to his 11th birthday. We suggested that he invite old friends, but to be brave and invite at least one friend from his new school. Boy one chose Turd (not his real name) and I picked them up from school. Turd spoke in sentences and was comfortable acknowledging my existence. Promising, I thought. Turd also discussed the BB gun he had and loved at home.
There was an hour or so before the party started. I sent the boys outside.
Would you mind if we did some target practice with my BB gun? asked Boy one.
Normally, I would not allow this, but Turd clearly seemed like a country boy, he owned his own gun, and besides, he spoke in sentences.
Ok until other people get here, but ALL the same rules still apply.
I know, Mom. Don’t worry.
Ten minutes, or was it twenty, minutes later, Boy one was at the door, his mouth dripping blood.
“Ter sho mah too,” he said, conveying rather unclearly that Turd HAD SHOT HIS TOOTH.
We left emergency messages for our dentist. In the meantime, we had a party. Boy one was in pain, but propped up with ibuprofen and icepacks. He kept a brave face while everyone else ate pizza. Never was it discovered, why, when Boy one said, “let’s go in now,” and started walking across the field, Turd lifted the gun and shot him in the mouth.
Boy one’s tooth was fixed as best as can be until he is older. The BB gun sat untouched after that.
I really can’t even look at it, said Boy One softly.
I apologized many times for my failure to protect. I ached for the delight that had become a sorrow, and life went on. Two weeks ago, Boy one (who appreciates most company except his own) stayed outside after everyone was in.
What’s he up to? I asked Boy two.
Oh, I said. I didn’t say more because I didn’t want to admit how much I wanted all this to be ok now. I wanted Boy one free to not be ok.
Did you see my target? Boy one asked a few days later. I strung cans on baling twine so I can hang it from a tree.
Great idea, said my husband
Yeah, pretty cool, huh? Boy one kicked off his shoes. I love target practice. It’s just so relaxing.
And me mother heart breathes out again.