Monday, October 27, 2008

Fourth birthday party this weekend!

I’m like a bride fretting about rain on her wedding day.

In our foolishness(?) hope (?), Husband and I booked Bean-girl’s fourth birthday party at an outdoor venue.

A year ago, I would have scorned a mother who fretted so about her little one’s birthday party. “Just let them eat cake!” I would have said. And then I would have ranted on about the overly elaborate birthday parties of today’s suburban, middle-class preschooler. After all, there were no party favors and “goody bags” (filled with plastic junk) during the parties of my and Husband’s childhood. No elaborate craft projects and entertainment. We had parties at home, maybe played pin-on-the-tail-on-the-donkey (I actually do have a vague memory of that), ate cake and opened presents, and everyone went home happy. See—there’s a picture of me in my parents’ photo album right there, blowing out candles. I look happy, and all the guests do, too.

But times are different now. And this year, Bean-girl started the preschool birthday circuit.

She’s only been to two parties, but one was at the local children’s museum, and the other was at the zoo. And so now she thinks (reasonably so, I give her) that birthday parties are functions that occur outside the home. Whenever I asked her, “Would you like to have your party at home, Bean-girl?” she would emphatically respond, “No way!”

Luckily, though, she’s pretty easy-going about where exactly outside the home to have her party. And I admit that I was not looking forward to cleaning my house and having 7-8 little girls and their parents running about in the small living room. Call me lazy that way.

I had a brainstorm. What about our favorite toy store? They have a wonderful craft studio, and there’s an adjoining café perfect for the cake and refreshments. “Would you like to have a birthday party at that toy store, Bean-girl?” I asked. She jumped up and down. “Oh, yes!”

We went to the toy store, talked to some people, planned out a lovely day. The managers said they would check with the store’s owner to make sure nothing else was scheduled on Bean-girl’s big day, but it all seemed perfect. Then we got home and a got a phone message: Sorry, but there was actually a huge store event on Bean-girl’s birthday. Would we like to reschedule?

So then I gave in to the Children’s Museum. “Would you like to have your party at the Children’s Museum?” I asked Bean-girl. She jumped up and down and said, “Oh, yes!”

The Children’s Museum got back to me after two days (you have to leave a message for their event planner). They were sorry to report that they would be closed that weekend for renovations.

The zoo, Husband and I thought desperately. Outdoors, yes, but their website said they had an indoors party facility, too. I didn’t tell Bean-girl about the zoo this time. After about a week, the zoo got back to me. Party already booked that day, they said.

By this point I was kicking myself over not planning Bean-girl’s party two or three months in advance, like any respectable mom. What about an apple orchard? Husband suggested then. There are only, like, a zillion apple orchards/farms in our area? And most have hayrides, petting zoos, restaurants, etc.

Eureka. And so this is how we ended up scheduling Bean-girl’s Nov 1 birthday at an apple farm. If all goes well, she and her guests will go on a hayride to a pumpkin patch, pick pumpkins (there’s the party favor), then have cider, doughnuts, and cake outside near a bonfire (to keep us warm). There’s a petting zoo, corn maze, and bizarre little story tent on the grounds, too.

If it rains/snows, we’re in trouble. The farm has table and chairs set up in a drafty old barn, but the seating space is small, and it won’t be too fun if the weather’s cold. Actually, I’m imagining sunshine but twenty degree weather and the kids all sniveling with red noses and frozen fingers and the parents quietly damning us under their breaths for dragging them out into the cold.

If it does rain/snow, we’re moving the party to our house. I’ll have to clean this place just in case, and then maybe I will have seven 3-4 year old girls running rampant in my small living room. The preschool craft project seems an essential part of this birthday ritual, so I’ve bought a bunch of miniature pumpkins for them to decorate. Of course, I’m not sure how to decorate them, and I’ve yet to buy the decorating supplies. Bean-girl still insists that a party at home will not be fun or “inresting” (interesting), but she seems mollified somewhat by the prospect of painting pumpkins.

A year ago, I would have never dreamed that I could work myself into a tizzy about something like this. Parenthood is full of suprises.


Mimi said...

ack! This is an elaborate affair. Painting pumpkins is a blast though!

ScientistMother said...

I just went to a 2nd birthday party at the local gymnastics gym. The kids all loved it and I'm sure older kids love trampolines as well. Something to keep in mind for next year? Fall birthdays are hard to plan..especially with so much pressure! Wishing you some sun

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

Hee hee! (sorry).

Yesterday I talked to a friend with two boys aged 1 and 3. They spent Sunday at a pumpkin patch that sounds eerily similar to yours - hayride, petting zoo... (I have to say though that as a Brit I thought "they let 4 year olds drink cider??!!" before remembering that your version of cider is NOT the stuff that I drank when I was 15). Anyway, my friend said that she had a beer in the sunshine with her husband and pondered how tragic she is that she thinks this is a Really Good Day. But I thought it sounded very pleasant!

Oh, and my birthday parties always included a goody bag. One slice of cake and maybe the prize you won at Pass the Parcel or Musical Statues.

ScienceMama said...

I'll keep my fingers crossed for sunshine!

Happy birthday Bean-girl!

ScienceGirl said...

Happy birthday to the Bean Girl! And I hope the weather is nice for the party!


rana said...

FO real! i be planning my birthday 8 months in advance. (going to the cat sanctuary) gurrl.. life doesn't just happen by itself, you gotta Plan!

just kidding! it doesn't sound too over the top. remember reading about how laura ingall wilder had a birthday party and they got to drink fresh milk and lemonade? see, kid's birthdays have always been a grand occassion. i wish i could be there!