Lesson of the Day: Birthday Parties Are Not For the Weak

Today’s Lesson: Birthday parties are not for the weak or next year they’re going bowling.

We now have two kids in the house who were born in January. This is unfortunate. Why? I’m sorry you thought that, now I’ll have to tell you.

For starters, our children are spoiled. Between us, my parents, Ian’s mother, his father, his Aunt and Uncle, and Aiden’s grandfather, the three of them come out of Christmas looking like bandits with all the presents and cash that they get. This leaves us with the problem of trying to figure out what to get for them immediately after they got everything they wanted and some things they didn’t realize that they wanted (I swear next year they get clothes…but then they’re spoiled and they don’t need clothes either).

Follow that up with the fact that we just spent a small fortune on Christmas and then we have to finance some sort of party for the birthday boy (or boys)…which can cost another small fortune.

Finally, the biggest reason January birthdays are unfortunate is that I’ve spent so much time thinking about Christmas, the birthdays kind of take me by surprise and I don’t have much time to plan or book anything.

My original plan was to have Ian take Aiden and a few of his friends anywhere but here and have another parent help chaperone while I entertained the two little guys. We were tossing around laser tag and bowling, but in the end, Ian decided they were both rather expensive and (the real deal breaker) the only available time was on Sunday around 11AM. I wasn’t sure how many of his friends went to Church, but I didn’t want to create that conflict for him. Therefore, we decided – to my horror – that we would host the party in our house…our messy house.

I consulted with Aiden and we chose a spy training themed party based off the one from Chicken Babies. So last Sunday night, I printed up a bunch on invitations, put them in black envelopes and sealed them in masking take with Top Secret written on it in red (we couldn’t find a stamp for it on such short notice). They were handed out on Monday – just six days before the party.

As the RSVPs trickled in, I spent my week assembling furniture that we had picked up and not had time to put together yet, and cleaning the main rooms. There’s a corner in the dining room that I swear I haven’t seen since I picked up the keys to the house over thirteen months ago. I also managed to find some towels and a pair of Ian’s shorts that have been missing for ages. It’s amazing what you find when you unpack your moving boxes.

Come Friday, Ian finally pitched in by designing the cake (which he didn’t order until Saturday) and starting to pick the treat bag items. I would have helped him, but I was stuck at the house…tidying. Don’t confuse the week of cleaning for a filthy house. The problem is mostly with filing and shredding and not having the places to put things that we need. Consequently, stuff piles up until we do a big clean.

On Saturday, I was sure that we’d never be ready on time. Ian went out to pick up the snacks and the rest of the treat bag stuff, and order the cake. He came back hours later declaring that we’d never do another theme party because they were too much work and too expensive. Inwardly, I cheered. I hadn’t been ready to host a party yet. That night I wrote most of the missions for the final part of their training and made signs for he bathroom doors, then went to bed knowing that I’d be lucky to be ready when the kids showed up the next day.

We have an issue with one of the boys peeing all over the bathroom instead of the toilet (I’m no expert, but it shouldn’t be that hard to aim…) so Aiden and I decided that the upstairs bathroom with the shower curtain would be the girls’ bathroom and the downstairs one would be for the boys. He requested signs reminding them all to flush and wash their hands so I whipped up a couple signs using this picture from a cross stitch pattern (I edited it a bit) for the girls and this one of an 8’x8′ Bond panel from Props Unlimited for the little boy’s room (also slightly edited).

Sunday morning, I finished up the signs and got to work at clearing up the living room (a.k.a. Callan’s toy den). In what was nothing short of a miracle, we managed to get everything cleaned up (except the vacuum cleaner) and I was getting the snacks together as the kids started showing up. I even got to have a shower!

Considering the time it took to prepare for the party, you’d think the hard part was over. Yeah… So one of the first guests to arrive was a little guy who’s mother stopped to inform me that he had broken his nose on Wednesday (we’ll call him Sam) and he should avoid anything rough that could cause him to hurt his nose again. He was, in a nutshell, overactive (and rude!). He kept running all over the house, we’d find him in rooms that he wasn’t supposed to be in – on the opposite side of the house from everyone else – he was the roughest one there and (I hope) was acting out simply because his mother had been restricting his movements for the past few days.

One of the next boys to arrive (we’ll call him Trevor) had an unhealthy fascination with breasts, bottoms, and genitalia. When I was out of the room, he’s crack jokes about any or all of those topics and didn’t waste an opportunity to point them out with his hands. This finally stopped when Ian mentioned that he wasn’t as funny as he thought he was. He’s lucky I didn’t catch him or he would have gotten a little lecture about behaving that way in front of girls (Aiden invited two and they both came!).

Sam and Trevor were the bane of my day. They were the loudest, busiest kids I’ve seen in a while and I live with Liam who is a force to be reckoned with. They tried telling us what to do, didn’t listen to instructions very well, and were disrespectful to Ian and I as well as the other kids (Sam would shove in front of the others to be able to take a turn first). I do have to admit that I caught Trevor being nice to Liam while we were waiting for the last kids to arrive. They had pulled out Aiden’s giant Nerf gun and Trevor had shown Liam how to load the bullets. However he cancelled that out by taking Liam’s gun later in the day simply because he wanted a green one (there was only one green one and Liam had requested it the night before).

The rest of the kids were great, but it only takes one rotten apple to  give me a headache.

We made it through the few hours with nothing major happening -one of Aiden’s Halo Mega Bloks toys came apart and Sam wrecked his Darth Vader bobble head by over stretching the spring but otherwise, but one got hurt. Then, they managed to take the baby gate off the hinges. One of the calmer guys was trying to put it back on but couldn’t figure it out. I went to the top of the stairs to take it from him while still holding the baby. Moments later, the horde of kids who had just ran downstairs came back up. Most of them turned left into the living room. Sam decided to go straight to run around the kitchen (again). Callan and I were in the doorway and he pushed by without so much as an “excuse me” or “sorry” and nearly knocked us right over.

I’d already been thoroughly fed up with him, but that was the breaking point. I yelled. I sent him to the couch and told him that his behavior was unacceptable and that if it kept up, I’d tell his mother that he ignored her instructions to be careful. It was poorly handled, and I did it in front of the other kids, so I’m sure he was embarrassed, but I won’t take it back at all. I did apologize to Aiden for it this morning though and that led to a discussion on proper behavior when a guest in someone’s house.

By the time most of the kids left, Ian was fully ready to admit that I was right in wanting to have the party elsewhere. In fact he agreed to it already…we’re thinking bowling. All I have to do is remember to book a lane or two well in advance so that we’re not stuck trying to organize it a couple weeks before Aiden’s birthday.

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Filed under Lesson of the Day, Stepping Up

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