Monday, July 29, 2013

Birthday Boy

My firstborn turned 5 last week. He invited a few friends and some cousins over on Saturday afternoon. My house is a working nursery school, so I didn't plan anything special; I figured the kids could just play. I joked to the other parents that I was simply planning on paying less attention to the kids than I normally do, since I had other adults there to help.

I made a cake in the morning, frosted it, and then the birthday boy fell sound asleep before he could decorate it. So he did it after his guests arrived, squeezing frosting tubes through decorative tips, abstract designs in hunter green and neon orange over chocolate frosting. The other kids, seeing this, wanted a turn and he chose his oldest, dearest friend while they all closed in around him, fascinated. I could tell he didn't want to share the decoration of his birthday cake with the whole kitchen full of kids, just as I could see that the whole kitchen full of kids most assuredly did want to share the decoration of his birthday cake with him.

My husband shopped for the plates, and instead of getting a Happy Birthday-themed plate/cup/napkin combo like I would have, he bought some eco-friendly, plain paper plates the color and texture of an egg carton. I'd been slightly disappointed when first I saw them, along with the plain, white napkins, just home from the grocery store, sitting dully on the dining room table. But all of a sudden I imagined them in my mind, festooned with ribbons of sugary frosting squeezed through decorative tips by kids gathered around a table, and I loved those ugly, non-festive little plates.  

If you want a turn to decorate with frosting, come get your very own plate to decorate! I sang, and the children pivoted and swarmed in my direction, giving the birthday boy his space. I handed out plates, one per child, and then we circled the small table and passed frosting in both directions until the tubes were squeezed empty.

So the party started with impromptu frosting art, and everyone was happy. Then we opened the presents, because why not?

He got a sprinkler with a million little spouts, like a long, plastic caterpillar, each bright leg a squirming, squirting fountain. We dug up bathing suits for all, placed the big, glass bowl of cheese puffs on the back porch next to the tortilla chips, and then -for most of the rest of the afternoon- the children played with mud. They dug in it, and stirred it with sticks, scratched up handfuls and transported it across the yard, threw it through the air and rubbed it on their legs and torsos.

One little girl wore a very pretty flowered blouse (she swore she was supposed to swim in her clothes, and I didn't find the swimsuit in her 'change of clothes' bag until later) and she rubbed handfuls of mud into it with a giggly glee. I thought to correct her, and then silently resolved to simply hand wash the blouse before sending her home.

They ate pizza and cake, and wanted to take their frosting art pieces home. I had no party favors to pass out, but they all requested sandwich bags of dry beans from the sensory table, and so I bagged up beans and sent them home with lots of love and no explanation whatsoever.

After his cousins got on the road to head back to Buffalo, I drove his oldest and most-loved friend home. In the spirit of his birthday, I didn't say a single word while they shrieked with laughter, shouting poop jokes in their loudest voices between fits of hysteria.

It was --I'll have you know-- proclaimed by multiple guests to be "the best party ever".

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