Because Parents are Partiers, Too.

>> Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Thanks, Marc and Kel, for throwing me a party!

No, wait... it wasn’t just a party -- it was a birthday party. And it wasn’t for me, it was for their kids. Crazy! Why did I think it was for me?

Oh, yes -- because Marc and Kellie know how to throw a toddler’s birthday party with their parents in mind! And what a difference it makes.

Usually I dread these little parties. Mostly, they involve parents watching their kids do stuff -- play with toys, go down mini slides, break things. But I knew this party would be different the moment I opened the cooler for a drink. Inside were cold cans of beer that said, Parents -- this party is for you, too. So said the freshly grilled hot dogs, brats, and pasta salad.

Then, when I learned I was allowed inside the bounce house, well... let the good times roll!

Brainstorm Alert: Why not invent a gym for grown-ups with bounce-houses, giant slides and jungle gyms? I haven’t exercised so much or so well in a very long time. Bouncing is hard work, but who notices when you’re laughing so hard? A couple of times I collapsed inside the sweaty-smelling bubbledome out of sheer exhaustion.

I was having such a good time that I had to actively remind myself to watch the girls -- that is, when I wasn’t bouncing with them, or flying kites with them, or chasing them.

Now... I have a question about water balloons: Are they simply a fun way to get wet, or an excuse for an impromptu wet t-shirt contest? My advice to anyone who’s listening: unless you want to get soaked, drop the balloon early in the game.

Elizabeth and I paired up for the toss, but she dropped the balloon early. Somehow I got blamed and she’s still irritated with me and has made me promise to buy balloons so we can try again at home. Samantha and Michael paired up and did pretty well. Then, somehow, Michael and I were throwing the balloon to each other. How did that happen?

Unfortunately, I have a competitive streak. I can’t throw a game, even if it’s in my best interest. I have to keep catching the balloon, softening my catches so the balloon doesn’t break, and keep trying until finally, a single overhanded toss from Michael causes me to reach up so that the balloon bursts in my hands in slow motion as it’s aimed for my head. I become soaked from head to waist and Michael is smiling and giving me the googly eyes. (He, too, has made me promise to buy balloons so we can try again at home...)

Between getting wet and throwing myself undignified down the bounce-house slide, we ate and drank. Which reminds me -- Lizzy invented chips and dip at the party. I know, you probably think that was invented already, but it wasn’t. Lizzy located the chips early on and probably ate half a huge bag all by herself. She saw the containers of dip. In a sudden burst of inspiration, she thrust a large wavy chip into a container of ranch. She tasted it. Wow! She ran over to me to show me her discovery. “Look what I did! Taste it -- it’s good!” I obliged and agreed and she spent the rest of the party dunking chips. She only stopped briefly to eat a large piece of chocolate cake before continuing again.

The only activity in which I was not allowed to participate was the pinata-whacking. I would have enjoyed it, too, although I would have enjoyed it more if the pinata looked like something I would actually want to hit (insert favorite political villain, here). Why do pinatas have to be so darned cute? What is it about us that says, “Hey, that’s the cute pink character from the Backyardigans -- let’s beat it!”

Samantha decided she was in no hurry to hit anything and declined to participate. Lizzy gave it some impressive whacks, but quickly lost interest when she realized she could be eating chips while no one was looking. I think a few of us were momentarily disturbed when the pinata’s body continued to hang onto its head by a thin string of muscle -- I mean, cardboard -- long after it should have fallen. We all just wanted the thing to die, to put it out of its misery so we could extract candy from it. But it kept hanging on. Finally the body fell to the ground. The candy didn’t burst out like we hoped it would -- little hands had to extract much of it from the belly of the beast.

Anyone want a lollipop?

The party continued and we had more fun. Samantha eventually fell asleep in Daddy’s arms while Lizzy and I took full advantage of the bounce-house. Finally, after three short hours, we had to leave. It was time to take down the tent, take one last trip to the bathroom, and gently place the sleeping Samantha into the back of our sweltering black car.

After all, we had another party to attend afterwards...

(Happy Birthday Makenna and Kyle!... and Jillian!)

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