Once upon a time, when Jennifer was approaching her third (or maybe fourth-much of it is still blocked by the PTSD) birthday, her mother and I decided it would be great to give her a birthday party at home.
The planning was so much fun. We sent out cute invitations to what we now think might have been 500 kids. We made individual bags of candy for each tiny guest, we hired a clown (I know, a pony would have created less shit), and I think we may have had a pinata. Or maybe that is just a remembered wish on our part to blindfold ourselves and swing at each other with baseball bats until we hit a martini.
We knew were doomed as the kids began to arrive. Most of the parents only slowed down to push the child clutching the present out of the car before flooring it and leaving a trail of smoke and rubber all the way up the street. It didn’t take us long to figure out that this innocent child’s birthday party was a parental excuse for an afternoon of hot sex, drugs, or maybe just a leisurely stroll through the grocery store.
IT DID NOT GO WELL
The clown never showed because she was caught in a traffic jam. Yes, SHE. So we let Jennifer open her presents and served the cake and ice cream to the horde of wild beasts in Suzanne’s lovely back yard. That all took 15 minutes.
We were faced with two hours of blank space. I frankly don’t remember what we did. Perhaps we tried to get several hundred sugared-up kids to sing songs. I may have tap-danced. I think we left them to their own devices to make their own fun. This wasn’t vaudeville, after all. This was survival.
Days passed. Actually it was only a couple of hours. Parents came back, pretty reluctantly it seemed, to collect their children. And then it was over.
It was a hard-won lesson. But we realized then why Chuck-e-Cheese existed.