On Saturday we had a birthday party for Jake. Our final headcount was 10. For some crazy reason, I thought that three hours was a good length of time for a party. I now know that I was suffering from temporary insanity. There was way too much testosterone in my house for an early evening.
As the boys arrived, they congregated in our family room. We had our Wii set up, and they were flitting between Mario Kart and some Wario Shake game. (We don’t have many games…our boys just haven’t been into the Wii until recently.) As boys are wont to do, they got louder and louder as they played and cheered/jeered/commented in general on the others’ playing styles/abilities/etc. The other issue? We only have 2 remotes. Yeah, you do the math…
A few of the boys started to play with Jake’s Beyblades. For the most part, they were keeping themselves occupied as they took turns playing the Wii. Of course, after about 30 minutes, I noticed that the same two boys were playing the games. They weren’t sharing. When I asked them to share, they’d hand off the remote, only to resume play under the guise of showing another boy “how do do it right”. One child was roaming around aimlessly, and he kept proclaiming that it didn’t feel like a birthday party.
**Let me pause here to say, this is a sad statement of our society. Well, at least the one I live in. Maybe it’s just our area… Our kids are used to being entertained. They are accustomed to having big parties at centers/gyms/laser tag places. We had nothing showy. It was a run-of-the-mill party at home.**
I jumped in and let them know that they all started playing Wii as they arrived, and that I had some party games if they wanted to try something new. Since third grade boys have the attention spans of gnats, they were game. (He he…see what I did there?!) I brought out some balloons we had partially filled. I instructed them to pop the balloons, but without the help of anything sharp or jagged. Most of them tried to sit on the balloons. When that didn’t work, they tried to lay on them, then stomp on them. Eventually, one of the boys figured out that if he jumped up and landed on the balloon with his knees, it would pop. I was certain that I was either going to have to (a) call a parent to meet me in the nearest ER after an unfortunate cracking of a skull on a piece of furniture or (b) call a repairman to fix a third-grader-sized hole in my floor. Oh muh gawsh!
The boys got silly. But they were having fun. I picked up shreds of balloon as they went along. One of the boys, who I know has some social issues, started to cry because he couldn’t get his balloon to pop. I suggested sitting on it and trying to flatten it out with his hands. He was afraid it would hurt. Luckily, one of his peers showed him how to get the balloon to pop. Right about that time, Hubz came in with the pizzas. As we got ready for dinner, a few of the boys said they should play “Epic Fail”. Epic wha?! Chanting began, “Ep-ic Fail! Ep-ic Fail! Ep-ic Fail!” I let them know, in no uncertain terms, that anything called “Epic Fail” was an “Epic not happening” in our house. I don’t really even want to know what that is…really.
We fed the boys. Surprisingly, they ate very little. A couple of them must have been too wired. They didn’t eat anything on their plates. It was incredibly amusing to listen to the conversation that they had at the table. I will never quite understand third grade boy humor. But they were laughing and talking and enjoying their time together, so I let it ride.
After dinner we did mystery boxes. We tied in some Halloween themes to the party. A few of the boys willingly participated in the game. Many of them found it to be too sedentary and “boring”. Eh, you win some and lose some.
We had an hour and 20 minutes to go with the party. We were losing some of the kids. I suggested opening gifts, and luckily was met with loads of cheers. Let me say, Jake’s friends were incredibly generous. He got some terrific new games and toys. I think one of his favorite gifts was a dinosaur pillow pet. The boy who got it for him has social group with Jake at school, and he really paid attention to what Jake likes. That was a huge success!
We had cake, of course. And ice cream… Hubz got Oreo and Mint Chip. Many of the kids were surprised that vanilla was not an option. The Oreo ice cream was decimated, so they were adaptable. Once we had them nice and sugared up for the evening, we unwrapped foam covered glow sticks and let them run around like banshees. Yeah….it was epic. Not really in a traditional party sense, but the kids had fun. They had sword fights and ninja duels and what appeared to be a rave at one point. There were shrieks of laughter and giggles. They played hide and seek–with glow sticks. Yeah, I know…but they are 8 and 9.
With a half hour left of party-palooza, we kind of let them pick their own adventure. We had kids playing Wii. A few were in our kitchen playing with homemade gak. One or two were in the living room having another sword/balloon fight. Most everyone was happy–except Tate. He really struggles when he doesn’t get a Wii remote. We tried everything, and it wasn’t working to get his attention diverted and redirected. So he sat on the floor, in the thick of the group, whining. Jake finally let him have a remote. He played Mario Kart against one of the boys who is a “gamer”. At some point, I heard, “Oh, man, Tate is terrible.” “Tate stinks.” Then one of the boys started a chant, “Tate is awful. Tate is awful.” Tate was too ensconced in the game to understand the chant. I lost my shtuff. Mama Bear came out to play.
“NO! NO! NO! You will NOT chant about how “awful” someone is. Uh-uh. No way. I’m turning this off,” I roared.
“Tate is awesome! Tate is awesome!” chanted the boy.
“Stop. Just. Stop. That is enough.”
We turned off the Wii, and the boys had to go make their own fun for the last 15 minutes. I think it was fine…they wrestled, played with gak, beat each other senseless with their foam glow sticks, and played with balloons. All in all, they had a fun time. I may forever be known as “Crazy Mrs. Hope”…but that’s ok. If you invite Mama Bear to the party, she’ll come…
Seven o’clock rolled around, and all of the parents were fantastic about getting their kids on time. We sent them home with some goodies, and Jake thanked everyone for coming and for the gifts. He doled out hugs to each boy. (It may not be a cool “dude” thing, but it is totally a Jake “thing”, and they all knew it. It was all good.) Jake was happy, had plenty of new stuff, and thanked us for the party. Tate chilled out, watched an episode of Max and Ruby, and Cole took over Jake’s new Angry Birds Hot Wheels set. Life was good..and Hubz and I smiled and high-fived. We survived, and most importantly, Jake was happy.