I hate throwing my kids' birthday parties. It's not the planning or the prep work. I actually enjoy all of that. And I love my kids despite their oblivion to all the work we've put into the simple, understated birthday affair and are intent on wrecking the setup, dipping into the food and creating new messes in the one or two hours before the event begins. But the chaos, the mess, the destruction, the mess, the craziness, the mess is what makes me regret the simple party-at-home idea.
In theory, it always sounds nice. In theory, it's manageable and organized. In theory, I must be crazy. I never learn my lesson either; for a few years I remember and I hold the party "off-campus." Then, I forget and I start to theorize again; and that's when I get into trouble.
Darling 2 couldn't decide on a theme for his 4th birthday party. He batted around ideas for Ninja Turtles, super heroes, Angry Birds and more. So, I had a big, bright idea; a big, bright, dumb idea. How about we have a costume party and decorate masks? We could have a mish-mash party in celebration of all masked/costumed characters, with a Ninja Turtles cake made by me and super hero plates and napkins, etc.; he loved the idea.
In theory, this sounded good. We plotted and planned together. We raided my basement closet with art supplies, holiday décor and past party provisions. We hit the Dollar Store, Target's Dollar area and Michael's. I had stickers, paper, scissors, glue sticks, tape, popsicle sticks, feathers, flowers, ribbons, glitter glue, rhinestones, markers, crayons, fancy pipe cleaners, pom poms and glitter; yes, glitter.
I was proud of my creative organization and my artful designs. And for a few moments, I must have forgotten that I have two boys and all the reasons that I hate doing art in my home; all the reasons that I paid for art classes when Darling 1 was little.
Now, to be fair with myself, I had originally planned to throw this shindig outside. But Mother Nature had other ideas, and this weekend we had our first freeze, making it a little too chilly for a backyard bash.
So, as I stood back and calmly watched glue and glitter and toys and cake and wrapping paper and packaging litter the floor and cover the tables and spill onto the chairs and creep across the room, it all came back to me.
Like a light bulb above the head of a character in a comic strip; ah yes, these are the reasons I don't have parties at home... especially artful parties at home...involving glitter.
I do this to myself. I almost always make the invitations and cake; and each year their expectations, designs and demands get higher; and if held elsewhere, I cart along cake, supplies, decorations, etc. to the location of the parties, often a park for the July birthday of Darling 1, where there are no amenities provided; and I try to be creative with the food, activities and take homes treats; all making me exhausted and crabby by party time.
Now, it's important to note that the children involved in the merry-making did indeed enjoy themselves during the costume wearing, mask making, toy playing, piñata smashing and cake eating events. And the birthday boy had a wonderful time with his dear friends.
And that puts a smile on my face, even as a wiped cake from the chair cushion and swept up glitter from the floor, sorted toys and re-organized all the art supplies...downstairs...high above the reach of little boys, but still within reach of creative concoctions.