Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Party On, Dude!

Today is my youngest child’s 11th birthday (Jack). Last year I figured that after 22 years of throwing parties for my one to four children, we were done. But apparently the rumors of their birthday parties’ demise were greatly exaggerated.

Over the years, I’ve thrown parties where magicians appeared, both young (age 13) and old (a 75-year-old magician). Barney, a Ninja Turtle, Captain Hook and Blue from Blue’s Clues have attended, as well as various clowns. We’ve had baseball themed parties, basketball parties, worker truck parties, Ghostbuster parties, 1950’s themed parties, gold-mining parties, pony rides, bowling, karate and manicure celebrations, and parties held at My Three Sons, Discovery Zone, the late great Mattie’s, and a semi-professional ballpark. Parties, parties everywhere and no relief in sight!

When publishing County Kids magazine, I began to feel like so much the party “expert” that we began putting out an annual party guide called “Partyline.” The tips and trends therein served to give me more fuel for the birthday party fever and fervor of my children. Over the years I practiced insanity as far as these age celebrations were concerned (the definition of insanity as doing the same things over and over again, expecting different results). I expected the events to be quieter, more manageable. I also expected my children to stop desiring them.

Kenny and Blake eventually conceded around age 16; Jack and Janet have yet to give up the ghost, no matter how hard I plead. And it’s probably because they have grown up with the myriad party people, places and things that have always existed in their world.

Last year when Janet turned 13, she had 30 of her nearest and dearest friends over for a swimming party. She had told us she was inviting 20, but that number morphed by party time and Jon and I sprouted more grey hair instantly.

“That’s it!” I cried insistently after the big to-do. “No more birthday parties!” I’m done, I thought. Put a fork in me, totally justifying – however – that Jon had thrown me a 50th birthday bash two months earlier.

But no… Jack’s wanting a gathering of buddies this year and all of my whining hadn’t stopped the planning.

Gone are the days of girls in starched party dresses, boys in blue blazers, a home-baked cake and pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey. In are paintball and laser tag parties; girls and boys in shorts and t-shirts wild with cake-induced frenzy. Goody bags cost a small fortune and are considered de rigueur; the quest for a new and different party venue is exhausting, yet always do-able. It’s frightening.

So I guess it’s party on, dude time once again.

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