Arrggh! Keeping Perspective When Party Plans Change

We had the perfect plan, don’t we always.

With a weeks vacation on deck following Amelia’s sixth birthday, we intended to invite her friends for chalking, bubbling, and bike riding in our driveway while noshing boxed pizza. All outside, no mess, no fuss, logistically light, and nightfall would naturally end our event.

“Celebrating a child’s birthday is ultimately about acknowledging the day they were brought into this world, into our lives, and the changes that they, and you, have been through.”

There are things we can control, things we can’t, and real reasons that theories of chaos are closely linked to the unpredictable nature of weather.

A week before the party, forecasters foretold the unfurling of our sails, a shifting of winds, and any chance of keeping our house, and sanity, in balance while hosting a houseful of hungry and hyperactive youngsters; we had to move the party indoors.

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In a panic I called clowns, magicians, and face painters. Some were available, some were booked, and others were just downright creepy.

I enjoy making things hard on myself, and accepted the challenge. We wouldn’t just have a party in our home, we would charter the waters of a themed party. We were going to have a pirate party.

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The Birthday Girl & her Dad.
The Birthday Girl & her Dad.

Our neighborhood has new construction dumpsters teeming with unused timber, I took the plunge and found a plank. The seal was broke, game on. With a blue tarp becoming water, we had the perfect pirate party entryway. We painted a patch on a pin-the-nose-on-the-clown poster, found gold doubloons to toss in buckets, and a neighborhood friend had an inflatable pirate ship. We chopped up fruit and veggies, ordered pizza, and opened our doors.

Sixteen kids with their parents showed up. We played games, ate food, and opened gifts. Did it get crazy? Yes, balloons were popped, light fixtures jeopardized, Hazel, overwhelmed by the population of our neighborhood fitting into the house, spent the first hour in her room, and feces was found on the floor. When the time came, I, politely, told our guests that the party was over, and they left.

In all ways, it was a totally normal kids party. Amelia had an amazing time, nothing broke, and bonds with those in our most immediate community were strengthened. We made it.

Could we have switched the venue to a neutral location and reduced our stress? Of course, but we believe that, while parties still include parents, they’re an opportunity to share more of our lives with people that we may only connect with through our kids. It’s a chance to develop an understanding that their children will be welcomed, taken care of, and safe when furthering their relationship with our kids.

Enjoying some much-needed post-birthday R&R.
Enjoying some much-needed post-birthday R&R.

Celebrating a child’s birthday is ultimately about acknowledging the day they were brought into this world, into our lives, and the changes that they, and you, have been through. The “stresses” of putting together a situation where those changes are glaringly evident is paramount. Changes? That they, us, and other people in our lives are important to have around and share our space with.

Even if you have to swab the poop deck mid-party.