I am now in the “children’s birthday party gauntlet.”
You may know the deal: where weekend afternoons are a carousel of venue and child and celebration of birthdays that sequence from party to party to party, with classmates you hear about and parents you’ve never really met.
It’s how it happens. It’s what you do.
This was my first of those.
Even for normal adults, it’s not the most ideal scenario.
But I’m not a normal adult.
Despite my cheeky snapshot above, I managed to survive and even smile through full-on kid birthday gauntlet fever in The Life Autistic.
Thankfully, I’ve got social survival skills:
Doing things. One of the other moms asked if she could help setup. Great idea, thought I, until I realized she took the one box of things that made for an easy task and left me, uh, nothing.
Finding a corner. That didn’t work. We were just late enough to where the corner/side seats were taken. Drat. Find a wall, find a wall.
Chase my younger child. Mo, my oldest daughter, is as learned and practiced socially at 4 as I am at “older than 4,” but Zo is kind of a wily, todding, ornery, troublemaking baby. Of course, today, she was perfect and didn’t need corralling or chasing.
Well, those options disappeared quick.
Things eased up as “the process” began. When there is process, there is peace. Chaos, too, but at least it moves in a sequence: crafts, snacks, cake, cleaning, and more cleaning.
Thank goodness my wife was there, else I’d have been unmoored and adrift in having to solo it out with other adults. I can make the moments count, but I need a safe harbor.
So I did venture out once or twice.
When the kids’ dad himself got a plate of snacks, I overheard him getting chided for not announcing that “everyone was welcome to get food.” I can relate to that! So I ended up joking with him a bit later, remarking how “It’s like a pool party — someone’s just gotta jump in to let everyone know it’s open.” To my credit, I did not reference the arcane source: a pool party episode on Nickelodeon’s Doug.
Then when I noticed their grandmother laying out cupcakes on plates with sprinkles, I leaned in to ask:
“Oh, is this a decorate-your-own-cupcake thing?”
“It sure is,” she beamed.
“Ok, we’re leaving – it’s been great!”
For not getting sarcasm, I can sure dish it hot — we all laughed.
After cupcakes and controlled chaos, they announced that the Children’s Museum would be ours to explore for the next hour or so.
“Dad, can we go?” asked Mo.
The party quieted down in my head as I could hear the distant roar of hundreds of other kids throughout the museum’s floors, thinking back to the unending trickle of parents, children, escapees from the boredom of a Sunday afternoon, ready to burn off that excess energy here.
“Of course we can go.”
To be continued.