I don’t remember how old I was when I attended my first birthday party, but I’m fairly confident it was older than three. Alaina’s last two birthdays have featured bouncehouses and “friends”, but those friends were her multiple cousins and the children of mommy and daddy’s friends. I figured we had several more years before we would be dealing with a whole yard full of rugrats to entertain.
One of Alaina’s powderpuff posse members recently turned five, and as befits a young lady of that age, she was allowed to invite a few of her school friends to the party. Alaina was ecstatic about the invitation. When told it meant she would be attending a party, doubly so.
Drop off for her school is between 12:15-12:30, with pickup in the afternoon between 3:00-3:15. She goes three days a week, with two of these falling on “daddy days”. This turns out to be an incredibly short window to try and accomplish those things I am unable to do with a “helper.” There are roofs to shovel, toilets to clean, videogames to play. There is no time for socialization between parents. The goal is to drop and run as quickly as possible, later to grab and go.
This contributed to me being far less enthusiastic about the party. I had no idea which of these little princesses we would be feting or which parents I would now be forced to engage in conversation with. I assumed the expectation would be for me to stay, but wasn’t completely sure. What was the protocol in a situation like this? I had absolutely no idea.
It turned out to be about as awkward as expected. Family and friends of the birthday girl gathered in one room, while myself and several other school moms followed our kids into another. The hosts were very gracious but still basically strangers. Standing in a corner with my punch and cold pizza I tried to avoid eye contact with the women across the room, occasionally being bumped out of the way by those having much more fun than I was. I couldn’t help but be reminded of sixth grade dinner dances.
Fortunately my time in this purgatory was short. I had to work that afternoon, so after a few hours we collected our goody bag, said our goodbyes, and headed out. The promise of an afternoon with grammy made this exit far less painful than I had feared.
Not unexpectedly, this has led to increased anticipation and planning for her own birthday party. I’m not sure where I am going to find a talking unicorn between now and May, but I’m pretty sure we are going to need a bigger cake.