how do I stop this crazy train?

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Party Pooper

Why Birthdays Only Happen Once a Year

I will be the first to admit that I am a person who enjoys cleanliness, organization, structure, and planning. I will also admit that I am prone to extreme stress when I am not surrounding myself with the afore mentioned items. Birthday parties as with any parties, are complete chaos. Complete chaos does not mesh well with my personality. I foolishly assumed however that with enough preplanning and enough structure I could somehow avoid chaos.

I began planning my daughter’s second birthday six months in advance. By four months out I already had all of the party favors purchased and the guest list completed. I thought the idea of a swimming party at an indoor kiddie pool was perfect. They have a party room on the property which means no mess or disorder in my home and plenty of activities to keep the children happy. I woke up today, the day of the long awaited party, at 4am feeling optimistic. With a good dose of caffeine I felt organized and in control right up until about 11am. The unraveling of the planning began with the pizza being late. That late pizza forced everything else into rush mode since we only planned for one hour in the party room and one hour in the pool. We were eating fast, singing fast, realizing I forgot candles and pretending to blow imaginary ones out fast, and finally changing into swim attire fast and running up to the pool.

Upon arriving at the kiddie pool the evil lifeguards- who I’m quite certain were just bitter old hags hardened by their own inability to bear children- informed me that all of the children needed to be rinsed (and god you know how the kids loved being hosed down in ice water) and that they were not even allowed to take their awesome party favor pool toys into the pool (more planning out the window). After prying the fun party favor pool toys out of their sad little hands and rinsing them in glacier water, they were all happily playing in the pool and I set about cleaning up the party room and taking load after load of party items and gifts to our car (in the rain). As I was coming back in to take out the last load I heard the voices of my daughter and my best friend coming down the hallway. When I rounded the corner I saw my friend carrying my child wrapped in her towel like a little baby burrito. As the words “what happened” were coming out of my mouth I was simultaneously noticing the brown stains on the towel. You could set a clock by my daughter’s bowels come rain or shine or pool or party, however, I failed to factor this into my planning. I got my mother to start hosing her off in the locker room while I ran back to the car to retrieve another swim diaper. When I got back to the locker room I followed my nose right to my child and my dear sweet mother trying desperately to get the poop off of Lauren without letting her step in it or touch it because at two, crap is still fascinating be it your own or the dog’s. So I jumped in and starting scrubbing fighting back the urge to gag and run to my nearest bottle of germex and vodka forgetting the whole ugly incident, all the while Michael was happily frolicking in the pool. I threw the towel away, it just wasn’t worth it, and I was prepared to toss the swimsuit as well had my mother not washed it out in the sink. I ran Lauren back out to the pool and went back into the locker room to try and get the larger chunks cleaned out of the shower stall. When I emerged from the locker room I looked up just in time to see my husband taking our two year old child (that cannot swim) down the ADULT waterslide. At the end of the fully enclosed dark tunnel of death I watched them both disappear UNDER the water. Frozen in terror I watched as they both surfaced unharmed but struggled to find my voice as I started in with the “what the “explicative” are you thinking” and “get your “explicative” back in the kiddie pool with my child!”

Overall I think everyone had a good time and I was able to learn the following things for next year:

1. Children are inherently not concerned with cleanliness, organization, structure, or planning.

2. No amount of planning can avert the chaos of a child’s birthday party.

3. Start drinking before the party, not just after.