This weekend was my daughter’s birthday, and the machinations required to pull off a good party are amazing to me. Of course, the folks made a trip to see their favorite (only) granddaughter turn seven. Grandmama came laden with presents. My husband and I had bought a few of our own. My main gift was three whole cards worth of earrings, because A got her ears pierced as an early gift. I was amazed by that, because my husband had been adamantly against ear piercing from the get-go. He actually made A do a survey at school to see how many of the other first grade girls had pierced ears. He finally agreed to pierce them for her birthday, which is in July. On Memorial Day, I guess he got a wild hair and said “Let’s just go get A’s ears pierced!” so that became an early birthday gift. Her six weeks of healing were up so she could change out her earrings for her birthday. Oddly, I bought three cards of earrings at Claire’s (doesn’t every little girl in America get their ears pierced at Claire’s?) and they promptly disappeared. I was certain I had hidden them in their usual hiding place, the bathtub in the bathroom in my walk-in closet. Gone. I even went through A’s things to see if she had found and appropriated them. Nope. Not there. Weirdest thing EVER. I still haven’t found them. I had to go back to Claire’s and get her a new set. I also bought her a Barbie Vet dog in a pink carrier, which she had begged for when I got it for one of her friends a few months before. I discovered to my chagrin that when she opened it, the damn thing talks. It sneezes and you have to blow its nose. It makes a smacking noise when you give it a bone. This is all done with magnets – you just wave one of the accessories at its nose or mouth and the magnet senses it is there. Then the dog makes the appropriate noise. Magnets appear to be a hot new way to make kid’s toys work. She got another set of little tacky plastic toys called Zoobles. These things fold into little balls that won’t open up unless they contact metal. They seem to contain little magnets that hold them closed. When they touch metal, their eyes, ears, horns, fins, whatever pop out. It’s rather diabolical. DH got her a travel easel, which is pretty cool. It’s got a chalkboard, a pad of paper, crayons, chalk, pens, a dry erase marker and a dry erase board all inside a little travel kit. So that’s actually kind of neat. Grandmama got her a ridiculous number of twirly dresses, which A is addicted to. The dress must fly out when she twirls around. She also got Jessica Simpson (!) dress shoes and a twirly skirt with a top.
The preparation for the party was a whole other ordeal. The cake had to be ordered the week before. We got it from Publix, of course, because Publix has the best buttercream icing. A wanted chocolate, which I knew someone would hate/be allergic to. Then, very weirdly, she decided that she wanted Strawberry Shortcake on her cake. She does not have one single Strawberry Shortcake toy. She has no movies. She has no anything. Why on earth did she want Strawberry Shortcake? Anyway, that’s what she wanted. So that’s what we got. When we called about the cake the morning of the party, they freaked me out because they couldn’t find it. Eventually they found it; they had not been able to figure out where it was because it was on “the other side,” whatever the heck that means. Is that some kind of fourth-dimensional portal in the bakery at Publix? Then we had to pick up napkins, plates, forks, blah blah blah. I had previously put together party favors for the kids (the dollar section at Target rocks for these things), with little stretchy koosh balls with eyes, sunglasses (left over from her party two years ago), glow sticks (left over from her party last year, little plastic rings and a couple of miniature chocolates with which I utterly ruined my diet by eating the leftovers. I concealed the wrappers in the garbage can of the bathroom of my walk-in closet, where I hide a lot of things. Of course, there was a riot over the party favors. I had bought assorted colors, and the girls all wound up wanting pink or purple. Silly me.
The party itself was wildly fun. Not. I wanted to have a water slide party in our backyard, which we had done twice before and which was really really fun. A wanted her party at the Skate Castle, which we discouraged because last year, no one brought their kids because they’re too little to know how to skate. So we made the party at the bouncy place at the mall. Ugh. Just that partial phrase “bouncy place at the mall” makes me nauseous. I hate malls. And I think that seven is too old for bouncy places. And as parties go, this idea has absolutely no originality or personality at all. Even A was unthrilled. The problem is, in a small town, there just aren’t all that many choices. A co-worker and I agreed that it sucks when the kids start having a mind of their own, because then we have to work with them instead of doing exactly what we want. A water slide party would have been MUCH better.
So, we had the party at the bouncy place. I invited 16 little girls, seven showed up. Not much of a showing. I guess my daughter will never be one of those that has the enormous birthday parties. They all showed up with pink presents and proceeded to have a fabulous time on the bouncies. Until suddenly, one of the little girls was looking for her mommy, because her front tooth was KNOCKED OUT. “It ain’t a party until someone’s tooth gets knocked out,” I said. My husband tweeted that. The parents were sitting around kind of bored, until there was a midair head butting collision, which brought another spate of mommy-seeking. So the injuries kept it exciting. The kids were suddenly starving and began to demand food, so we went to the party room for cake. The room REEKED of lysol or some other cleaning agent. It smelled like a hospital in there. The smell was so overpowering we could hardly taste the cake. Then A started to act like a brat and say that only certain friends could sit next to her, etcetera. So grandmama had a quick talk with her. Of course, one little girl didn’t like chocolate and wanted more than one piece so she could eat the icing off them. When time came to open presents, the kids all piled up in a giant inflatable throne. A opened her gifts and they were sooo girly and pink! She got two Barbies, a nightgown, some girly Legos (the Lego people finally realized that their market for females was totally untapped, and they began to make Lego Friends, with little cafes and houses and little convertibles with little girl figures with interchangeable hair), some bean bag animals to paint, and numerous other pointless, pink, disposeable items which will make my house look like a landfill. We took home the middle of the cake, which had no icing, and I got a really cute picture of my dad sitting on the giant inflatable throne. A wore some new earrings and the party was a success.