Thursday, April 1, 2010

i am not whimsy

Hello, my most Creamy friends!

I'm Alicia. I can normally be found here, but I hijacked The Creamery today in honor of April Fool's Day. Isn't that fun?! And also: zany?!

If you're looking for Whimsy, you might find her
here, or

Or maybe not. You just never know with us April fools.

I must say that I am very nervous to be posting here. I kinda feel like I won a big award, and now I'm onstage, and you all are looking at me funny because my pants are down around my ankles, and I'm wearing my Saturday underwear inside out on a Thursday.

It's a big responsibility to inhabit someone else's space for a day. And you lovely people all come here for Whimsy's unique perspective, which I obviously can't deliver.

So. If you don't adore me, let's just pretend that you, umm, do. And then Whimsy will come back tomorrow, and I'll go back to commenting on her delightfulness, and we can all pretend this blight on your holiday never happened!

Okay. Let's begin.

Today's hijackery is brought to you by Oh Crap, All My Kids' Birthdays Are Coming Up.

I have four children, ages 8, 5, 2, and 10 months, all of whose (and my) birthdays occur within a five-week period from the end of April to the beginning of June. (You do not even want to know how these children's births were planned with such military precision.)

There are a couple of ways this horror can manifest (beyond the four children part).

There's the Gift Problem, of course (alternately known as: there are only so many swimsuits and super soaking summer water toys you can buy children).

And then, there's the issue of children's parties. Revulsion of all revulsions.

And I'm not even talking about the screaming and the bouncing houses and the never ending NEEDS and the kool-aid and the cupcakes and the goodie bags and the potential for Technicolor Vomit. No, I'm talking only about my INABILITY to host even the smallest of gatherings.

If you come to my house (minions always welcome!), it's likely that I will not remember to offer you something to drink, for example. Because I'm just DUMB at this kind of thing.

Let me tell you a story. You may want popcorn (or a hand grenade).

My daughter, Anneke (Dutch, rhymes with "Hanukkah"), turned five last June. She wanted to invite friends to a party almost as desperately as I wanted to not host one. I had the brilliant idea of inviting everyone to meet at our neighborhood park, about a block from our house, for pizza, cupcakes, and fun on the playground. Easy peasy, right?

Here are some highlights:

Four (of about 25 kids from school) RSVPed. Of those who RSVPed, I think only one showed.

Everyone was EXTREMELY late. The first guest showed up around 25 minutes late, and the second appeared like 20 minutes after that. Imagine me, my spouse, and kids hanging out on the playground equipment, just waiting for people to show. Worrying for 25 minutes straight that NO ONE was coming, trying to act like it was no big deal to the kids, that it wasn't as late as it was. Sitting there with something like six pizza boxes, cheese getting spongy, not wanting to open them because THERE WERE NO GUESTS.

It turns out that, even though I was very clear with the park name and location, most of the people who showed up first went to the larger park about a mile away. One family immediately came over to the correct park but then left because THEY DIDN'T SEE A PARTY.

The kid of a friend of ours showed up only because his mom wanted to get him out of the house AFTER HAVING THE BARFING FLU.

Because almost no one had RSVPed, I had no idea how much pizza to order or how many drinks to buy or goodie tins to make. I knew I was overshooting, but I decided to err on the side of MORE, so I planned for about 20 people plus parents. We ended up with more than three entire large pizzas left over, and about 15 tins, which I think cost me about $5 to $8 each to put together.

The weather had been pretty mild, right up until the day of the party, when the temperature hit ONE HUNDRED TWO DEGREES. And I had erroneously remembered that the play area was covered. The kids were so hot, they literally just sat on the ground underneath the slides, not even really talking, like listless little zombies. Of course, I did what any sane person would do: I apologized to the parents. And apologized. And apologized. It was like a tic. "I had no idea it would be this hot. My idea was... I just had no idea it would be this hot." (In June. In Texas.) The apologizing clearly made everyone uncomfortable. Because I'm awesome!

My youngest one was five weeks old. I had him in a Moby wrap to facilitate my mad hosting skills. I kept thinking I was going to look down and see a baby dead from heat exhaustion. (I didn't. He's fine.)

About halfway though the "party", my two-year-old had explosive diarrhea that shot through his onesie and shorts. Since we were just a block away from our house, I'd made the decision not to bring extra diapers or wipes. I had to borrow - at my own party - an ill-fitting diaper and wipes from the barfing family. And then I had to LEAVE my own party to take my diarrhea kid home to change clothes. And instead of crawling into the closet under my stairs and crying in a corner, I had to RETURN to the party and pretend it was not the most horrible even I'd ever attended, much less hosted.

When it was all over, the barfing family commented on how the party could have been better. (I would give anything to remember those comments now, but I've inexplicably blocked them from memory. Possibly because of the humiliation aneurysm I'm sure I had later that night.)

One lucky party guest, in her own haste to get away, left her purse on a bench at the playground. We, the psychotic host family, then had to rifle through the purse to identify the owner and find her contact information. I'm sure she appreciated that as much as she appreciated having to RETURN to the scene of the biggest party FAIL in history for her purse.


We resolved, following that experience, never to host another children's party.

But. It's a new year.

It's April, and the kids have started talking about their birthday parties. I can't look at them, hope in their eyes, and tell them we won't celebrate them - their unique entrances into our lives - the way they want to be celebrated.

So, I'm thinking.

We can do this thing, people. Right? It can't be worse than last year. RIGHT?

And now I have a very sincere question for you creamy minions: What makes a good party? And more to the point, what makes a good HOST?


Amanda said...

I hate children's birthday parties. I'm going to hell.

I can FEEL the anxiety of your party. I am so sorry!

I think you're born with the hostessing gene or not. I was not. I fear hostessing anything, especially a kid party. Unfortunately, my kids (7 & 9) kind of want a party every year. I've got one coming up. Yeych!

Anonymous said...

I broke out into hives just reading this. THIS is the reason children's birthday parties are just plain scary. I think you deserved Mother of the Year just for trying and I cannot believe you're brave (or foolish) enough to try it again.

Can you get by with one big group party for all kids and end the pain at once?

Bradley the Beth said...

I am so glad that this is documented. and not at the usual site at that. We can distance ourselves.

Nothing to see here. Move along!

Midnight Rambler said...

Oh I cringed for you on this one. But mostly I cringed at the rudeness of all those people who did not RSVP. Do they not have kids of their own? Have they not hosted their own parties and felt the same angst ... as much as they might pretend they didn't, you know they did ... unless maybe they hired party planners?!? You just can't plan a party if you don't know who is coming. Grrr. Makes me angrier the more I think about it.

Unfortunately, I am absolutely devoid of ideas for easy kid parties, as I have just a dog and a husband. They are easy to please and don't require parties of any kind.

But I am wishing you the very best luck with everything!!

Bethsix said...

The birthdays are spread out just enough - and my kids are just young enough - that I don't think I could get by with one big party. Maybe when they're older. Would be niiiice.

And yes, I don't get the not RSVPing. WTH, people?! So annoying.

Thanks for the well wishes, guys. And thanks for reading this post, as I realize it was quite a time commitment. (And with Whimsy's wide sidebars, it looks even longer than I already knew it was. Heh.)

KAY said...

I was laughing so hard the kids asked me what I was reading on the computer.

This is an unbelievable party. It's a convenient package of everything I've feared. Well, thats not true.. If you threw in some rattlesnakes (then, again you do live in Texas), THEN it would be everything I've ever feared.

What's up with non-RSVP'ers?!? Sheesh.

Everyday Kathy said...

Oh my! My daughters party is next week... I'm hoping for the best!

We're having cocktails for the parents... hopefully that helps.

I can't believe people don't RSVP. It is so weird.

You might try having a party at little gym, amusement park or something like that... you plop a cake on the table and the kids have fun no matter what. I live near San Francisco so we have a lot of cool options... yet still I am hosting in the back yard... what a nut job I am!

Amy said...

Do you throw parties every year? We've instituted the "Every Other Year" rule, although I stupidly started with both kids having parties in the same year---if you staggered you could do two a year. My kids' birthdays are six months apart, but I am not at all good with large groups of kids or hosting anything at all, so I freak out even with them spaced so far from one another. From someone else I got the 'one guest for every year' thing--i.e. five kids for a child turning five, which we've stuck to with the exception of the one year that I invited the entire preschool class (everyone turned up, WAY too many kids).

The years that our kids don't have parties, we go on some kind of outing of their choice (movie, bowling, etc., plus stopping for ice cream on the way home) to which they're allowed to invite one friend. 2010 is a non-party year for me and I am selfishly so relieved.

Lynne's Somewhat Invented Life said...

I'm sorry, I am laughing too hard to take your questions seriously. I mean, the "humiliation aneurysm" was the final straw. oh, hahahaha. Sorry. I'm sure you will figure it out and if you don't, be sure to blog about it. I need all the laughs I can get.

angelalois said...

Hi, Not-Whimsy, I don't really know you but I am crying I am laughing so hard. Thanks for the post. As I just sent out the evite this week for my little dude's 2-year-old party, I am now way nervous. BUT I am also a firm believer in, "hey, you don't get a party every year, just when mom's in the mood." So if mine is as "good" as yours, maybe I'll never be in the mood again. Regardless, THANKS for the laugh!!