Yesterday, my oldest attended his first bonafide birthday party. Meaning, it was not a party for a cousin and I didn’t stay at the party with him.
Twin boys from his preschool class celebrated their fifth birthdays at a nearby bowling alley. A slight detail that escaped me until hours before the party. I’d assumed ‘Mountain View Bowl’ was just the name of their residence – perhaps the only house on a fancy street. But for some reason, when I took another look at the invitation early Sunday afternoon, it dawned on me that, in fact, it was a bowling alley.
Which means I had to dash G’s dreams of going to his friends’ house and playing with their toys, and quickly prepare him for bowling. [It seems to me that 80% of parenting is trying to manage and adjust kids’ expectations.] I reminded him that his Muncie preschool class had gone to the bowling alley where they took the big balls and tried to knock down the pins….you know with Miss Oyer…..
I knew my jog down memory lane had failed when he said: ‘who’s Miss Oyer?’ At one time his favorite teacher and occasional babysitter. Strange, the human memory.
The remaining hours before the party were spent wrapping the gifts he’d carefully chosen for his friends, and counting down the minutes until the party would start. (And trying to convince him that he was not, in fact, going to have his very own birthday party afterwards, at 6pm.)
Apparently he’d gone to school on Friday and ASKED his friends what they wanted for their birthday. One boy replied he wanted a monster truck, and the other said he didn’t know. Which means we bought one monster truck, one utility van and a set of three emergency vehicles with flashing lights and sirens. (I should have included a note of apology to their mom with the gifts.)
When G arrived at the bowling alley, which was dark and featured everything-glow-in-the-dark plus strobe lights, he was greeted with an awkward embrace from his little friend. Which was the cutest thing I’d seen all day. After helping him into his bowling shoes, and trying to convince him not to touch the tiny bowling balls until everyone was ready to play, I dashed off to take the professor to the university, promising to check back within a half hour.
When I stopped in thirty five minutes later, he and six other ‘friends’ were taking turns hurling the tiny balls down the buffered alleys in an effort to hit five widely spaced pins. Frankly, it seemed a little difficult – wouldn’t it be more satisfying to give them ten pins and a greater chance of knocking down a few? I watched him bowl a couple of rounds – taking the tiny ball, walking to the line and swinging the ball through his legs, releasing it ever so slowly to trickle down the alley……. and possibly hit something, or not.
With another hour to go until the end, the Hen and I made a break for the Farmer’s Market, where we shared a chicken pot pie and I released him into the mosh pit that is a jumping castle with nine children older and larger than he. Instead of fearing an ambush and bolting for the exit, crying, he typically just hangs out in the middle, putzing around, unfazed he could be crushed. (His personality, in a nutshell.)
When we picked G up at the appointed hour, he seemed ready to go. For some reason, when he was given his ‘goodie bag’ (which he’d gotten before at other parties), he thought he was being given a gift the boys hadn’t wanted. Which is how he told the story to Jason, later on that night.
He analyzed the bag’s contents in the back of the car – a dinosaur egg, a little book, a plane, and a pack of gum and a pack of tic tacs – ‘lucky, lucky me’ he exclaimed. Which was the second cutest thing I’d witnessed that day.
‘Now, when my breath gets stinky, I can just have a piece of gum!’