SODAS FOR THE KIDS AND MARGARITAS FOR THE MOMS

My son turned 10 on Friday. I threw him an Angry Birds theme pool party. If I never see another one of those little fuckers again, that’d be all right with me. An angry bird, that is. The kids were fine—unruly and demanding, in that way kids can get when they’re jacked-up on lots of sugar and the pizza delivery guy arrives an hour later than he’s supposed to.

Being that I couldn’t afford to have a petting zoo at the party, and jumpers are no fun when it’s almost a hundred degrees outside (I kept envisioning a turkey roasting inside one of those cooking bags), I thought it’d be kinda fun to organize games where the kids could win prizes. I might not be crafty like Martha Stewart, but I may be able to give Julie McCoy, Cruise Director if she were on Valium, a run for her money.

Problem was, when it came time to give the winners their prizes, they’d already all been scoured over by the losers. And when it came time for the treasure hunt where each kid was supposed to have a turn, all bets were off if you couldn’t find the angry bird eraser fast enough. I cajoled, I pleaded, I threatened—

It went from:

(In my best Julie Andrews voice from The Sound of Music) “Now, now, Children, everyone must get a turn, it’s only fair. You want to be good boys and girls, don’t you?” to:

“Please, if you don’t settle down quickly, I’ll have to double my dosage of meds tonight.” And, finally:

“If you don’t knock it off, all you little demons are going to Hell!” (Imagine this being screamed using the voice of the crazy bus driver in the South Park cartoons)

It didn’t matter what I said to these kids. It was “to each his own,” “live or let die,” “the weakest will have his body eaten if we’re stranded on a deserted island for weeks after a plane crash.” A friend said to me after, “I definitely can’t see you as a school teacher responsible for 30 children,” which goes to show you how well my hunt turned out.

At the end of the day, my feet hurt, I hadn’t eaten, I was sunburned, and I didn’t even get to have a piece of cake. Two days later, I still feel like I’m hung over from the preparation, execution, and clean-up of it all. Now I know why parents spend $500 bucks to have John’s Incredible Pizza host their party.

I think the sheer joy and excitement seen in my son’s eyes was worth it, although it’s debatable. I got him everything he wanted for his birthday—a habit of mine that I seriously questioned this year. I thought about giving him one present only— a soccer ball, and a used one at that. Considered the fact that I was probably creating a spoiled, self-centered kid; that he should learn sooner rather than later what disappointment truly means, since life is full of it. But I couldn’t do it. As a mother, I’m admittedly too soft.

Before we went to sleep that night, I realized for the first time in 9 years, my son’s father didn’t call for his birthday. Didn’t send a card, or gift. I’m not sure whether or not my son noticed. If he had, he didn’t mention it. He thanked me again for throwing him his party, and for getting him the best presents ever.

“I know you worked really hard, Mom, so I’m going to give you a massage,” he told me. As he worked his little magic for 15 seconds, with his “two-finger massage” on my shoulders, I knew it wasn’t up to me to teach him what disappointment was. That honor has already been bestowed upon his father.

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