Last weekend, I escorted the newest Kindergartner to two different birthday parties. One was at the kid’s house and appeared to mostly consist of cousins. Which is cool except everyone that's not a cousin is then left standing next to their mother waiting for the bounce house to be inflated. Thankfully one of her buddies showed up and she was able to stop pretending to be shy. The birthday kid's mother then attempted to make all the other mother's in attendance feel inadequate by whipping up six homemade pizzas. Chick is a full time pharmacist with two kids under five years old. For a second, I started wondering what kind of lazy whore I am if I can't be bothered to produce some homemade pizza too. Luckily I remembered that I don't even really care for pizza so oh well. It also helped that the pizzas had olives on them and I hate olives. I guess everyone she knows likes olives or something. I'm basing this on how baffled she was that I didn't like them. Whatever. She's a very nice person. I totally forgive her for the homemade pizza.
The second party of the day was at one of those party places with all the inflatable stuff. A bouncy race track, inflated slides, lots of tunnels. Yada yada yada. My baby being the deprived child that she is had never been anywhere like it. I'm not sure how we've managed to avoid it. Being allergic to leaving the house probably helped. But holy cow was my kid impressed. For example, there were bouncy structures set up indoors! And there was more than one! Go figure! Just in case I wasn't sure she liked it, she told me repeatedly on the ride home how much fun she had.
My favorite part of the party though was when they shooed us off to the party room for cake and presents. The newest kindergartener was slightly in awe of the entire process so she immediately followed directions and took a seat at the table. She positioned herself near the birthday girl but still within reach of the helium balloons that clearly required periodic batting. No really. At first she took a seat by the birthday girl. After reevaluating her lack of proximity to the balloons, she moved down. She's a planner that one. If my husband were here, he'd tell you she gets that from me. Since he's not I'll tell you what she gets from him. That would be the ability to identify opportunity when it knocks. At birthday parties, it's actually sugar knocking. Because our kid's are allowed to have whatever the hostess is serving. That includes juice, soda, candy and cake. I guess maybe we'd draw the line at crack cocaine. But I figure I don't have to worry about that seeing as how my kid would right past it to get to the Capri Sun. She's good for 2 per party. Man, does that kid wish they sold Capri Sun at our grocery store. It's unfortunate she has to live under our Nazi regime.
Anyway, so my baby's sucking down her 2nd Capri Sun and batting helium balloons while the birthday girl begins tearing into one present after another. I swear there had to have been like 25 of them. And I guess there are time constraints on the parties so they keep things moving by whisking the newly opened present out of the way as soon as it's opened to make way for the next present to be opened. I could barely figure out what kind of pink princess crap she got before it disappeared.
I told my husband about it later and he thought I was nuts to be surprised that they opened all the presents. He's all, That's what you do at parties. And I was all, But it was so boring and the kid didn't even have a chance to act appreciative. And my husband was all, Can I have the remote?
So then it was time for the newest Kindergartner's present. She signaled this by waving wildly and squealing. And that's when I remembered the crazy drawing she'd made for her friend. The one she'd folded up into a long rectangle and taped the hell out of before sticking it on top of the sticker book and puzzle she'd helped me wrap in cutesy pink paper. The one I'd laughingly thought the birthday kid's parents would get a kick out of when they opened it up later that night at home. My daughter calls them "gift cards". They're drawings accompanied by whatever words pop into her head. At Christmas, mine included a list of the names of all the kids in her class. I remember thinking it was very charming as I unwrapped my homemade gingerbread ornament.
My husband says I've created this monster. He specifically cited all the times I've told her to draw a picture for someone for a gift giving occasion. And at Christmas, so I wouldn't see the craft fair present she'd picked out for me, I even let her wrap her presents herself. Rather than giving her access to wrapping paper which she could then wrinkle, rip and generally destroy, I suggested she draw a picture and then wrap the present with the drawing. Most of the drawings were on notebook paper. Maybe not the most attractive, but kid's got her whole life to wrap stuff in actual wrapping paper. And I figure it's good for her to think of ways to give to other people.
Right. Except now we're at the inflated birthday place and my kid's the only one with homemade drawings taped to her present. And then the birthday kid's mother is struggling to get the tape off so she could unfold it and figure out what it was. That's when I had a fleeting moment of embarrassment. Mostly concern that the newest Kindergartner would be embarrassed. Don't worry. She wasn't. In fact, she spoke right up to explain to everyone that it was a gift card. Clearly. But I cannot tell a lie. I had a moment of embarrassment for myself, too. A little twinge of, Gee, I hope the cult doesn't find out how free spirited we are. But then the moment passed and I decided I'm okay being the oddball parent. She has her whole life to follow the crowd. And all the other mothers at the party seemed to think it was sweet and charming too. Especially once the drawing got unfurled. She'd drawn hearts and the names of everyone in her family. Including our dogs. I know. Crazy. Do not listen to my husband when he tries to tell you she gets that from me.