Posted by: Kate | July 27, 2008

Chalk Outlines and Edible Cars

We had Jacob’s fourth birthday party yesterday, and just like every other time, it all worked out just perfectly.  The right number of people showed up, they all got along well, and they went home before I started to look for a heavy object to accelerate their departure.

We took photos, which I’ll post, and video, which I can’t, and just had a beautiful day.  And today every muscle in my body aches as though I ran a marathon, which I most assuredly did not.  Parties are hard work, apparently.

My only gripe about the day has to do with the mother of the Two Beastly Children that attended Jacob’s “kid party” (we typically have a few hours’ worth of kid-party, followed by a dinner and assorted forms of alcohol for family and friends afterward). The Two Beastly Children’s mother insisted on staying for the duration of the party, despite the concurrent facts that (1) we encouraged her to leave, both because none of the other parents stayed and because kids tend to behave better when mom’s not around, particularly these children, and (2) she hosted her son’s 4th birthday party a few months ago and parents were expected to drop off and return then. But, fine, whatever is more comfortable for her, right?

Except that she’s a supremely poor conversationalist an an even worse disciplinarian, at least judging by the evidence presented in my backyard yesterday. Both of which are forgivable, or at least forgettable, but then on top of that, she’s annoying. So we had Two Beastly Children running around, pounding on each other, occasionally involving other children in their roughhousing, and generally making themselves unpleasant, and we had their mother making lame attempts at chat and not understanding any tendency toward humor. We’ve already managed to accidentally lose her phone number lest we be tempted to arrange future playdates.

Adding insult to irritation, she also insisted on bringing a wrapped birthday gift for Jacob. I know, the horror, right? But, seriously, since we started having birthday parties, we have included the same line on each invitation: “Instead of wrapped gifts, please bring a book or toy to donate to [a local children’s charity].” It’s not a typo. I didn’t actually mean to write, “Please bring my kid any number of small or large gifts so as to fill my house beyond capacity with means of entertainment.” We honestly, truly, don’t need more stuff in the house. We have four million toys, at last count, and the kids are going to get more from family. So for the friends parties, we try to focus on doing stuff with friends, not accumulating more things. Not to mention, it makes for a very tangible, obvious lesson in how to give to charity.

We’ve had people bring gifts before because they couldn’t be bothered to read the entire invitation. You can’t blame them, really; those extra fourteen words can really add a burdensome task onto the day. But in this case, she did bring something to donate, but also brought something for Jacob, “Because my boys just had to bring him something. They don’t think it’s a party unless there are presents.”

Well, OK. I guess. Whatever. But then she insisted on pulling out this gift and making Jacob unwrap it in front of the group, right after they sang “Happy Birthday” and licked all the frosting off their cupcakes. Which really took the situation from annoying to full-on rude; not only are you imposing your materialistic needs onto my kids, but now you’re also making my other guests feel uncomfortable and awkward because they don’t have wrapped gifts, too? Fabulous.

Ah, well. It was a 30-second blip in an otherwise fantastic day, and with a little luck we’ll have moved far enough away as to make their attendance at the next party impossible.

Meanwhile, in the “worth a thousand words” category…

Jacob and X helped fill the goody bags, in identical toddler posture.

Jacob started off the party by announcing, “I will just watch my friends on the slide. I don’t want to go on it.” His resolve lasted approximately four seconds. Emily made no such announcement, and just – literally – dove right in.

My sisters decorated Jacob’s cake for him. I made similar cupcakes for the kid-party, but according to rumor, my trucks looked like 7s with eyes. So I made those same rumormongers make cars and trucks for the cake. They did, indeed, make better vehicles than I did.

What, the parties at your house don’t include chalk outlines?



  1. Chalk outlines are like snow angels, only in the summer. Nothing wrong with that.

    The cake looks delicious, and that water slide looks like fun. I don’t think I’d be able to stay off of it either. Happy late Birthday, Jacob!

  2. Kate honey, around here we say, “It ain’t a party ’til the cops show up,” but chalk outlines!? That’s some hardcore partyin’ right there.

  3. We had Ryan’s 3rd birthday party yesterday, on his actual birthday. I have yet to have a party where I invite anyone who isn’t family. But that means there are still about 16 kids there. We made tie dye t-shirts that I rinsed out in the pouring rain. I am exhausted.
    Your story–is why I don’t do play dates, and won’t be forced to. The closest I’ve gotten is, “Yeah, we should do that!” This is why I’ll never be popular.

  4. I have to laugh at the chalk outlines … when I was in high school (small town Tennessee, remember), we had to make our own “fun.” One summer, “fun” took the form of sneaking out of the house and driving to the homes of friends, teachers, etc. and leaving chalk outlined body shapes in the street in front of their homes. We got pretty creative after a while — we’d have outlines of entire families, animals, you name it. Only once did someone get mad. Gotta love high school …

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