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It's My Party and I'll Cry If I Want To!

Planning a child's birthday party can range from simple to frustrating. Expenditures run the gamut from shoestring to drain-the-college-fund. And as our children care more about party details, the party planning pressures are proportionately higher for parents.

So when Lucas announced that he wanted an "animal party" with Power Ranger plates and cake, I rose to the challenge. The Power Ranger paraphernalia was not an issue — but the "animal party" threatened to be a major source of heartburn.

After some research, I discovered that a local nature conservatory offered a live animal party. And they had the desired day and time available. I couldn't believe my good fortune! The date reserved and deposit paid, I scoured the Internet and found the cutest animal-themed 3rd birthday party invitations this side of the Mississippi.

The party was Sunday.

Friday, the northeast was hit by a horrendous storm of sleet and snow that left up to five inches of pure ice in many areas.

Saturday, I called the nature conservatory to confirm the party was still on. They said it was a go.

Sunday, I receive a call from the animal instructor about an hour-and-a-half before the party was supposed to start. "You won't be able to get your car up to the barn to unload everything, so just park in the lot and call me when you arrive. I'll come down and help you."

"Okay. But there's no problem for everyone else to walk up to the barn?" I ask.

"No problem. I've been shoveling and salting all morning," he replies.

So Husband and I load the boys, all of the animal-themed goodie bags I had worked on for two nights, and the Power Ranger party paraphernalia into the car and head off to pick up the cake.

I run into the bakery and announce I am here to pick up my son's super-cool Power Ranger sheet cake. The woman goes into the back and comes out with a quarter sheet cake.

"What happened?" I sputter, in total shock. "Where's the sheet cake?"

"I lost your order, so I had to do it from memory. Is your son's name Luke or Lucas?"

I am too scared to respond. What if she has written the wrong name?

"Lucas," I cautiously reply.

"Oh good, I got that right." Oh, yeah.

"Why didn't you call me?"

"I lost your order."

I am clearly still in shock.

"I'll make you up another cake. It won't be a Power Ranger cake, but it will give you enough to feed your guests."

Five minutes later, I am running out of the store, two cakes in hand. Off to the party we go.

As we pull into the parking lot, it is apparent that the entire walkway leading up to the barn is a sheet of ice.

I call the animal instructor who proceeds to slide down the few hundred feet from the barn to the lot. For 20 minutes, we try unsuccessfully to make it up to the barn with goodie bags, Power Ranger party paraphernalia, cakes, and boys in hand.

I am carrying the good cake... and I slip, smooshing the Power Rangers as I try to regain my balance.

Guests are starting to pull into the lot, and we haven't yet made it even halfway up the hill. As you can imagine, I have a few choice words for the animal instructor. I demand he call his executive director. Once on the phone, she explains that they had cancelled all parties that weekend because of the ice, but she had been unaware of ours.

With most of the guests now hovering in the parking lot, I don't know what to do.

"The birthday party is being moved to our house."

As I hear the words coming out of my mouth, I am stunned. Of the 12 days leading up to the party, I had only been home for two. The kitchen was a mess, toys were everywhere. But before I know it, I'm home, with 19 kids running about celebrating Lucas' 3rd birthday.

Forty-five minutes into the party, somebody asks, "Where's Justin?"

Where is Justin?

Panic fills Husband's face, "He's in the car!"

As we run out to the car, Husband explains that Justin was sleeping when he'd pulled up to the house — I had ridden home with a guest who didn't know where we lived — and while Husband was unloading the car he'd decided to let Justin sleep... and then forgot about him. Caught up in the madness myself, I'd never even thought to ask where Justin was.

Fortunately, Justin is still sleeping. As I lift the car door handle, he slowly opens his sleepy eyes and gives me a big grin. I bring him inside, where he proceeds to have a blast watching all of the other kids run around.

And of course, when it 's time to sing "Happy Birthday," nobody notices or cares that there are two cakes  — or that one of them is smooshed!

After all was said and done, it was a fabulous party. Lucas loved having everyone over to his house and thoroughly enjoyed showing off his toys. And, for what was basically an enormous playdate, all of the kids couldn't have been better behaved. There wasn't one disagreement had, or one tear shed.

After this experience, I can assure you the pressure to plan the perfect party has been lifted from my parental shoulders.

Happy Birthday Lucas — I love you!

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