Wednesday, April 19, 2006
It's His Party, But I'll Cry If I Want To
In less than three weeks, my son will turn two years old.
I am so not ready for this!
I don't mean I'm not ready for the milestone.
(Although, okay, I'm not-- do I really have to stop calling him "the baby" already and start calling him "the kid"? Couldn't I just keep calling him "baby" until he's, oh, I don't know, 18? Oh, okay, okay. How about five? No?)
I mean: I'M NOT READY FOR THE PARTY.
For Isaac's first birthday, I started planning the party and buying supplies in FEBRUARY.
For weeks I tracked prices online and in circulars to figure out where I could get the absolute best deal for my money, and then I the bought napkins, cups, plates, balloons and paper decorations, all on clearance/sale, at four different stores over a period of about a month.
I designed the invitations myself, incorporating a carefully selected photo from each month of his life, starting with the day of his birth, on the cover of the card. I went through about six design drafts before picking one to have professionally printed on cardstock at Kinko's. (I actually had my husband and several friends do critical reviews of each design before choosing the final). I then hand-assembled the invitation cards, adding a baby blue liner and a translucent insert.
Ahead of the party, I purchased four new serving bowls and two new serving plates and several new serving spoons and two new pieces of furniture (Extra chairs for the living room-- we needed them anyway. Really). I arranged to borrow folding chairs and tables from three different relatives. I tried to make my husband let me buy or rent a folding gazebo tent thing to put on the apartment lawn outside in case of rain, because our apartment is roughly the size of two postage stamps, and my husband has an ENORMOUS family, and therefore a good third of our invited guests would basically have to sit outside or we'd be violating fire codes, but he wouldn't let me. Because, unlike me, he is sane.
In the days before the party, I drew up a menu and started cooking. I bought a few things pre-made at the store, but, being monetarily impaired, I cooked at least half of the food completely from scratch. The menu included:
-Fresh green salad
-German potato salad
-Fresh chopped vegetables with three flavors of dip
-Pretzels with dip
-Chips and salsa
-Macaroni and cheese
-Pasta primavera with garlic-roasted vegetables
-Homemade hand-frosted sugar cookies cut in the shape of stars and the number one
-Homemade yellow birthday cake with homemade, from scratch butter-cream frosting, rainbow sprinkles, topped with homemade sugar cookies spelling out ISAAC.
(Did I mention that my son has Sensory Integration Disorder, and at that time wouldn't have touched a frosted cake with a ten foot pole?)
Crazy Uber-Mom syndrome, much?
Okay, so I went a little overboard last year. But the 50,000 family members (only one of whom was actually from my side of the family) who showed up to our overpriced Quonset hut-- oops I meant "luxury apartment"-- had enough to eat, and had a great time, and for the most part Isaac had a good time too (he was a little traumatized by the cake).
But this event took months of work and planning to execute on a single-full-time-income family budget. And was exhausting. And overwhelming. And probably not really what Isaac would have wanted for his birthday if I'd asked him, anyway.
So this year, I was thinking, I would have to do something different. Something fun. Something small and kid-oriented. Someplace where someone else would have to clean up afterward. Maybe have the party at the zoo? The Magic House? The Carousel in Faust Park? Maybe at the Museum of Transportation? Someplace where other kids would have a good time. Someplace with a laid-back atmosphere.
I've looked into it. All of these places cost like $150-$200! FOR ONE HOUR. You ever tried to keep a party to one hour? Sheesh. Not my kind of party. And that price is without food or decorations, in most cases.
So, what. Chuck-e-Cheese? Scratch that. You just try taking a kid with sensory integration issues to a crowded, noisy restaurant full of SIRENS and STROBE LIGHTS and making him stay there and behave for three hours. We made the mistake of taking Isaac to Dave and Buster's a few weeks ago for a bring-the-kids dinner party one of John's coworkers was having.
I'll give the kid mad props-- he made it for almost two whole hours while we waited and waited for a table before a major meltdown.
Then he screamed at the top of his lungs for two hours straight. Including on during the 45 minute ride home.
So, I've come to the conclusion that we'll just have to do it at home again. Which means that my husband's entire extended family, including Isaac's grandparents, great-grandparents, and possibly multiple great-aunts and uncles will expect to be invited again, since it's "just a little family get-together at home."
And this is BEFORE we invite any kids Isaac's age for him to play with-- there are no kids his age in the family who live nearby.
I have less than three weeks.
I have done next to no planning.
(What happened to Uber-Mom? What's that? You say she dropped dead about six months ago from sheer exhaustion one night? When she cooked yet another three-course dinner from scratch for her family after spending all day writing copy for a deadline WHILE watching a child and folding laundry, and then her kid screamed at her and threw the food back in her face? Tragic, truly! And you say Half-Assed-Slacker-Mom has kindly volunteered to move in to permanently take her place? Oh, ok.)
(Is there a stronger word for panic?)
(P.S. Did I mention it's my husband's birthday that week too?)