Posts Tagged ‘ party ’

The Anatomy of a Child’s Birthday Party

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

Joe DeProspero has two sons, a wife, and is complimentary birth control for anyone who sits near him in a restaurant. His writing has been described as “outrageous,” “painfully real,” and “downright humiliating.” Author of the dark comedy fiction novel “The Boy in the Wrinkled Shirt,” Joe is working on a parenting humor book. He currently lives in New Jersey and can be found on Facebook or followed on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.

Since my older son’s fifth birthday party was held last weekend, I find it appropriate to discuss exactly what goes into planning, and ultimately executing a child’s birthday party. Now, I know plenty of parents who will scoff at this and ask, “Why bother stressing over a kid’s birthday?” Well, the short answer is because stress is in my blood. The remainder of this blog is the long answer.

Planning a birthday celebration for an adult is fairly simple. You pick a date, you pick a place, you send a mass text, and whoever is around shows up for a drink. And generally speaking, there’s very little stress (if any at all) and plenty of alcohol involved.

So, about that kid’s party…

The very first thing to consider is theme. As in, which animated character makes your child cry the hardest when pried out of his or her hands? For my son, this was undoubtedly superheroes. Batman, Incredible Hulk, Spiderman, Iron Man. You name it. He’s obsessed with it. Sure, he’s never actually seen any of them on television (or even the comics). But why should that insignificant detail deter him from infatuation? Regardless of what you choose, though, the inevitable theme ends up being “parents spend an obscene amount of money that their child will never fully appreciate.”

So for my son’s party, my overly driven wife decided to make HOMEMADE SUPERHERO CAPES AND MASKS as party favors. In a way, I was impressed by her determination. In another way, it felt like going swimming with cinderblocks tied to each ankle. Ambitious, yet not entirely desirable if you’re already having trouble keeping your head above water.

I wish I’d put half the effort into college that my wife puts into party favors.

The next thing to consider, naturally, is the date the party will take place. Choosing the date closest to the actual birthday of your child is ideal, but not always feasible. What if your child’s birthday coincides with Labor Day weekend, or the birthday of another child in your kid’s class, or the anniversary of Titanic’s sinking? Ultimately, you’re either the type of person who says “screw it” and books your party the date you want it, or the type to play nice and make sure you’re not stepping on feet. No matter how hard I resist, I typically fall into the latter category. I just refuse to touch anyone’s feet.

Choosing the location and party package (assuming this isn’t happening in your backyard) quickly turns into a game of “Which business owner is trying to screw me the hardest?” There will be the basic party package, which they’ll actually title “Basic Party Package” to make you feel like a heartless cretin selecting it. This package typically includes six party guests, 30 minutes of jump-rope, and maybe use of paper goods and plasticware. The basic package is the party equivalent of ordering the 8 GB iPhone. So, ultimately, because you’re having more than six kids at the party, you’re ordering the Jumbo Kid Orgasm Package that costs roughly the same amount as your mortgage payment. But that includes cleanup, saving you the trouble of taking paper plates and napkins and tossing them into a trash bin. So, there’s that.

Then, reluctantly, comes the creation of the invite list. And make no mistake; no adult wants their kid to be on that list. There’s no alcohol, there’s little refuge from their kids, and there’s a strong likelihood that they’ll have that party hat elastic band snapped onto their face. This may explain why we invited 32 kids to my son’s party and a whopping seven replied by the RSVP date. You would think we were asking them to sign up to be a foster family for a homeless groundhog with the hollowness that encompassed our phones and email inboxes. Add on the fact that we mistakenly invited his entire class, and we were met with a whole sh*tload of indifference. For potential ideas on how to quell this RSVP issue, check out this recent article.

Once the date, location, invite list, theme, and alcohol to be consumed afterwards is all laid out, it’s time to “execute the party.” So you cart the balloons, cake, party favors, and every stimulant imaginable to the party place. And you start to realize that holding a child’s birthday party is not unlike having a wedding. First of all, there is virtually no socialization (for you) at all. You’ll greet people as they walk in the door, mindlessly shout “thanks!” as they’re leaving, and practically nothing in between. You’re too busy taking and posing for pictures. You’re too busy documenting who gave which gift so you can mention it in the “thank you” card later. You’re too busy ensuring every soul in the building is happy, eating and hydrated…except for you. And that’s when you decide that your child’s next birthday will be at the Outback.

My task the night before the party was turning Poland Spring into “Super Water”

But there’s something intrinsically important that happens during your child’s party. There’s a moment when the music is colliding with your relentless thoughts, when your spouse is anxiously asking you where you left the camera and you feel the sweat start to bleed through your shirt fabric, when you see your child absorbing every stimulating element surrounding him. And he’s so incredibly happy that you can’t help but smile through the chaos. Because you know, despite the price tag, your sweat is worth his joy.

Another thing that was actually worth it? This cooler than cool superhero cake.

Yes, the fist is edible. Yes, I ate the fingernails.

Alternatively, if in that moment you don’t see your child exuberantly smiling, at the very least you’ve brushed up on your project management skills.

Thanks for reading, and please join the conversation by adding a comment below, checking out my Facebook, or following me on Twitter. And if anyone in the New Jersey area wants the number of the cake creator, drop me a line.

Get started planning the perfect birthday party for your little one using our Birthday Party Planner!

Kid Craft: No-Sew Superhero Capes
Kid Craft: No-Sew Superhero Capes
Kid Craft: No-Sew Superhero Capes

* Balloon photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com

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Finding The Perfect Bubbles

Saturday, June 29th, 2013

Fourth of July is almost here. The question is: Have you found your bubbles yet?

Emmett is obsessed with bubbles. I secretly am too. But so many of the bubble guns, etc always break. I have filled up a landfill with plastic crap that produces three bubbles before conking out. So in my quest to find the perfect bubbles, I stumbled upon a great find. A plastic tennis racket thing. It’s brilliant. Forget fireworks, these are way more fun.

I found it while attending an event my friend and fellow blogger, Jill Simonian of The Fab Mom, put on recently. She hosted a luncheon for moms and tots, called “Littles Who Lunch” at The Americana in Los Angeles.

It was to benefit the charity Operation Smile (as well as kill a few hours in our day with the babes). Her husband is a plastic surgeon at Children’s Hospital and also volunteers for the organization. Their mission is to provide free surgeries for cleft palates and other facial deformities for children around the world.

I stopped by not knowing what to expect.  I had no idea it would end up being the highlight of mine and Emmett’s week/month–maybe even year.  Give the boy balls, bubbles and balloons and boom. We’re done. Give me some good food and bubbles and my mid-life crisis can be averted.

We walked onto the lawn and there were balls everywhere. He took off shrieking.

But then it got better. A balloon artist was there. Cue more shrieking. (Hard to get the picture of him running and screaming without making a scene, but trust me, my dude is a screamer.)

Then I saw the pools. Full of bubbles. And wands. We both dashed towards it.

That’s where I discovered the tennis racket thing, among other wands. I think the key is getting the solution right too. I have found in my research that Gazillions of Bubbles tends to work the best. Plus there is a thick wand that produces, well, gazillions of bubbles. No batteries needed, thus no need to fill a landfill.

Anyone have a perfect bubble-making device? Let me know. Forget world peace. This is the crucial stuff that keeps me up at night. I truly believe no one can have too many bubbles. Happy 4th everyone.

 Look! He’s a bubblehead:

 

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Dear Fia, You Are Three…

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

 

Dear Fia,

I want to share the first half of this Winnie-the-Pooh poem by  A.A. Milne:

When I was One, I had just begun.

When I was Two, I was nearly new.

When I was Three, I was hardly me….

They say three years old is one of the most magical years of childhood. I can believe it. You are gushing with creativity, curiosity and imagination. You are forming into a little person. Yet, the world is still so big. You know your space in it, but you don’t know how vast that space is. You know you’re loved, but not how much. You know you’re safe, but not from what. It is magical for me too. I want bottles with each year of your life in it. Someday when I’m old and gray I can open up your three-year-old bottle and breathe you back into me.

It is hard to fathom three years have passed since that snowy day at Columbia Presbyterian. In some ways it seems like you’ve been with me forever. In other ways, it’s like you are this gift that I’ve only just begun to know. Both are delightful scenarios because while the feeling in my heart is timeless, I get to keep on loving you for years and years to come.

I said to you the other day, “You’re my sunshine.” You looked right back at me, shook your head and said ever-so-earnestly, “No Mama. I’m your daughter.”

You charm me (and maybe manipulate??) in a way no one else can. When I put you in your crib for a nap or bedtime, hug you many times, and walk away, you always stand up and say, “Mama, hug!” as if I hadn’t yet. But I always have more hugs for you. “Hold you tight,” you say, squeezing me as hard as you can. Then, “One nice kiss.” You kiss my cheek. Lately, in keeping me there with more manipulation, you say, “I love you soooooo much.” And hug me even tighter. I don’t want to let go either. Like I said, I need a bottle…

When I finally get you to lie down, the tickling begins.

“Tickle my forehead.”

We started the “tickling” about 6 months ago. Now it seems to expand weekly to every body part. Last night it went like this:

“Tickle my back.” (shirt raised, butt in air). Okay, done.

“Tickle my stomach” (roll over, lift shirt up). I had a slight hangnail.

“Mama, your nail is sharp.”

“I know, so no more tickling. Night night.”

“No Mama, go cut your nail,” you order, pointing to the clippers and emery board on the dresser. Huh? How did you…? Oh, never mind. Just do what she says. I do. Tickling resumes.

“Tickle my knees.”

“Really Fia?”

“Yes Mama,” you reply, as if this wasn’t becoming a tad ridiculous. You pull up your pajama pants and I tickle each knee.

“Okay honey, goodnight.”

“No Mama, what about my elbows?”

Seriously?

But even if I’m exhausted, I never tire of this routine. That’s because someday, when you are a teenager, (with a STRICT curfew), I will yearn for these days. Another mom who has a 16- and 18-year-old told me, “As exhausted as you are now getting them to sleep and waking up at 6 a.m., it’s a lot better than waiting up for them to come home. Trust me.” I do.

The mere thought of it breaks my heart. So when I’m really desperate for you to go to sleep, I channel my new mantra: How lucky I am to have this and not be staring at the clock, hoping you are okay.

At three, you also delight in letting us know if we forgot something. The other day you and I went on our thrice-weekly grocery run.

“I need to get baby food.”

“Oh-O-o-kkay!” you say, brimming with enthusiasm. “I-I-I will pick it out.”

We shopped for all sorts of things. We pay and are in the parking lot when you start giggling and announce with glee, “Mama, you forgot the baby food! Silly Mama!”

You were right. And strategic in making sure we already left before you called me on it. “Logical Consequences,” as my father would say. We head back in, and you continue to repeat “Silly Mama!”

The old adage, “Would you rather be right or happy” may apply to you someday. But for now, you are both right and happy.

Woe to the person who shuts your door all the way. (Which by the way, began when your favorite TV show made you afraid of the dark.) One time I had it almost shut and the air conditioning blew it the rest of the way. From the wailing I heard, I thought your crib had collapsed. I ran in and found you sobbing. “Mama, you aren’t supposed to shut the door!” Tears were streaming down your little face and once again I was reminded what my love for you does. It takes me to my knees. Not because you will be scarred for life from this, but just seeing you so genuinely upset (and feeling betrayed) tugs so deeply at my heartstrings. To anyone else this scenario may sound absurdly dramatic, but feelings aren’t facts. However, they are real.

Since then, I have paid the price. Not a day goes by without this:

“Mama, you need to leave the door open this much, not this much. This much,” you say, as if you’re explaining and demonstrating with your little hands for the first time. Sometimes you insist on getting out of your crib and showing me, just to make sure I really am not an ape.

“Fia, I know honey.”

“But Mama, you left it open.”

“Fia, that was months ago.”

“Mama forgot! Silly Mama.” And we’re back to the glee in being right. Nothing will slip past you, my girl.

You are so articulate. It doesn’t hurt that you have a screenwriter for a father. But still, you understand the meanings of big words. After Wayne–our transexual cat–freaks out batting around a tennis ball, you’ll shout, “Wayne is cantankerous! And feisty!” (Apparently the cat takes after his mom). When Emmett hurls himself into a wall you’ll yell, “Mama! Emmett is being rambunctious!”

I keep saying it can’t get better than this. But apparently it does. Right now you are three and you walk with me. But what I hope for most of all is this, from Winnie-the-Pooh:

“If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you.”

 

 

 

 

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Fia Friday: Happy 4th!

Friday, July 6th, 2012

We had our first 4th of July here in LA. Because of our great backyard, we could see fireworks popping all over. We decided to have an impromptu BBQ and dress in our most patriotic outfits (I should note Phil’s jacket is representative of Japan–but it was red and white so we figured it worked).

Rebecca calls Em “the love of her life.”

Fi is Rebecca’s little shadow, as seen by the picture below

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