Hot August Night

August 28, 2011

Yesterday was my daughter’s 11th birthday party. Being a late summer birthday, it’s usually hard to round up a group of friends – most people are either still away on holidays, or slipping away for one last kick at the summer can. You aren’t in school yet, so there are no friendly bumps or special treatments from the teacher and class. As a parent – you have to get creative, especially if you are like me and were brought up in a home where birthdays were really celebrated!

Every year I throw a good old-fashioned home birthday party with games, prizes and activities, but this year she decided on a bowling party. Great! I thought, a bit of a throw back activity that everyone can participate in (and one that each of my two older kids indulged in, at least once in their lifetime). The guest list was set at 9 girls – first time she’s had a “girls only” party – 4 of the girls would also sleepover (this suddenly could not make the sleepover or the bowling party either (mixed communications/previous engagements..note to parents, make SURE of your plans before you RSVP with that yes). My daughter was so disappointed – how much fun was it going to be with a party of only 5 (including herself) and the that meant that  just 2 friends would be at the sleepover party when she was counting on at least 4. “You need a big group of people to have a fun party” she lamented, obviously having watched me throw one too many bashes (my Ladies Only – Valentine Party has become so popular that I actually had to create two sittings; a morning brunch and an afternoon tea!). I assured her that you don’t need a crowd to have fun and that this party would be great. Doubtful, she had no choice but to believe – the party was the next day.

Saturday afternoon arrived, as did her friends to the bowling alley – the bonus of the group being just 5 was that there was no real waiting for a turn to bowl and it felt kind of like a team playing. There was a constant state of giggling, squealing and a bit of shrieking…so by the beaming on her face I could guess it was success.

The other two girls came home with us and upon arrival found that, outside in our backyard, my husband had arranged an outdoor theatre with 3 Adirondack chairs in a semi-circle placed in front of a TV, set on a table – extension cords and all – bug “smokers” were burning to keep the mosquitoes at bay. Also set up was a long table, graced with a tablecloth and on it I placed a series of bowls with different flavors of chips and pop, personal bowls and cups for the concession stand. An age-appropriate movie was popped into the DVD player (along with a second choice should they desire). So, in essence, we had created our own, private “drive-in” theatre.  There was also a reasonable amount of candy in their loot bags (which I kept that to a minimum to avoid any vomiting later!) and the sun went down – the stars came out and judging from the giggle factor, a successful evening was had by all. Later, when the bugs became too much, they came back inside where we had set up the living room with blankets in the doorways to create a private den-like experience. We threw down a futon that we keep, just for moments like these, and three (how perfect!) can sleep on it cozily. It was warm in their enclosed “den” but I brought out the fan and kept the windows open a crack  – hey, it was no five-star resort, but it was the best we could do and I think – pretty darn cool….I have yet to hear of any of my kids attending a party like this one. They are still sleeping as I write this – but we all know that pancakes will be rustled up and made to order once they awaken…isn’t that the standard Sleepover Breakfast?

We always want the best for our children – and for me it’s all about creating Magic – whether at home with my own children (no matter how old they are) or with my girlfriends (you never out grow magic) or on a daily basis at work with my daycare crowd.

Hopefully when everyone has gone home this afternoon, my daughter will say (as she does every year, no matter how the parties turn out)…”Oh Mom – this was my best birthday EVER!”


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