A while back I asked William what we wanted to do for his birthday. I expected something like take his class to Zap Zone for laser tag, go ice skating, go to Chuck-E-Cheese, etc. Instead, he said he wanted to eat out and then come home and play “sports” with friends. I was a little worried at this point as I wasn’t sure I was up to hosting a large group of 2nd grade boys at the house, but I said OK and asked him who he’d like to invite. Surprisingly, he just gave me a list of three friends, (and he told me not to worry because they were well-behaved…huh??) At this point, I couldn’t say no. William—a 2nd grader mind you—wasn’t looking for some big birthday bash at a glitzy place with a bunch of people. Instead, he just wanted to share some time playing at his house with a few of his closest friends. So, one Tuesday while William was at gymnastics, Ann and I set out to plan the party.
Ann wanted to handle *everything* and make this a great party for her brother. Who am I to stand in her way? She figured out what treat he wanted to take to school, (chocolate chip muffins), what kind of cake he wanted, (chocolate), where he wanted to eat, (Max & Erma’s), and what he wanted to do, (play sports). She selected the theme, (baseball), picked out favors for the class and the party, picked out invites, selected recipes, and planned games.
It was really neat to see how involved she wanted to be—for all their fighting, they love each other. Ann and I had to have a couple talks about planning vs. over-planning and that in cases like this you want to have a good dose of “take it as it comes” and have fun regardless. Yes, I stepped in a few times, (like when she started making seating charts—as if 2nd grade boys are going to be doing a lot of sitting anyway), and making suggestions that I thought matched her vision. In the end, we got to a happy medium.
Ann wrote all the invites, baked muffins and the cake, (although she allowed me to be the Sous-Chef), hung up decorations under direction of William, and wrote down games to play. She wouldn’t have it any other way. I was left to more mundane things like packing the various gift bags and making sure the house, (and basement in case of inclement weather), were clean. (Thanks to my mom, the cake wasn’t a rock. See, Ann *insisted* on actually making it herself, but for her to do that we had to make it four days earlier. I was telling this to my mom the night we baked it and she said that it’d dry out. After a bit of discussion—as I’m more of a cooker then a baker—I vacuum sealed it after it cooled. Good save, mom!)
Saturday comes—party day! The house is in great shape, (except for my office which got hit during the last minute “dumping” treatment), the weather report is sunny, Ann finished frosting the cake the night before, and we’re doing our normal routine of “sleeping in”, (not much sleeping, but instead hanging around in jammies playing games and making breakfast). We finally “got it together” and met up with William’s three friends for lunch along with my parents and a couple of the mothers who wanted to stick around, (one with a girl in Ann’s class so she had someone to hang out with). Back to the house for Ann’s cake, (which had rave reviews), and presents. Then I went out to play sports with the boys while my parents entertained the mothers and Ann and her friend entertained each other. Back inside for a little Mario Kart on the Wii with the boys while Ann and her friend hawked drinks and snacks at their refreshment stand. Then back out to play the games that Ann, (and her friend now), had planned. Finally into the basement to play a little, (not because the weather was bad, but it was actually getting *hot* out there even if the thermometer disagreed).
After everyone left, the kids and I played in the newly-cleaned basement. We did again with the extra time we had this morning…
Ann I hope and think was empowered by all that she had done. William I hope and think had all that he wanted for his birthday. As for me, I found it really cool to share one special event for one kid with both.