Wow, what a day! We had our first foray into hosting a kid’s birthday party at home. I counted up, and I think there were about 20 kids plus maybe another 12 adults present. That’s a whole lot of input. Additionally, Joanna was still running a high temperature yesterday, and needed to be held for most of the day. Given those circumstances, I had to abandon my plans to photograph the proceedings and just hang on for the ride.
Kids started arriving just after 10 am. I enjoyed meeting the kids Hazel talks so much about at school, and their parents. We put up some streamers and milled about. A half hour later the bunnies arrived. After the bunny manager had gotten them all set up downstairs, we trooped downstairs, sat in a circle, put cloths in our laps, and petted them. They are incredibly soft! Some were more cuddly than others. It was at that point in the proceedings that I got literally light-headed from all the input. I sat back on my stool with Joanna in my arms, and waited for my heart to calm down. I will ask friends for their pictures from the day.
It was lovely to see the kids cuddle and pet the bunnies. There was a grey and white one which sat happily in Hazel’s lap for a long time. Kids came up and downstairs as they felt like it, and the circle changed. The bunnies were with us for an hour or so, and then they got packed up. We went upstairs for food.
Hazel had helped make tuna fish sandwiches. They were still in the oven, so I decided to just do the cake anyway. That was one oops – kids with too much sugar and not enough protein get more wound up. Next time, I’ll try to keep a better handle on the order of things. Anyway, out came the cake. We sang happy birthday, and Hazel immediately blew out the candles.
Then we went into the front room to open presents. That took a while. Hazel had gotten freaked out that someone would start opening them instead of her, and cried pretty hard. I sat down with her to help her feel better, and then she wanted to sit in my lap while she opened things. That meant that it was too easy for me to get too involved, to manage and slow down the process. And I think next time we’ll open family presents when it’s just us, maybe in the morning. Nonetheless, it was wonderful to see the creative and thoughtful gifts given her by her friends and family.
When we were done with presents there wasn’t much time left, so we didn’t do any face painting, and only a few kids got to draw on the sidewalk. Further lessons learned about how to run parties. 1) Don’t advertise what I’m going to do, in case I have to make a change. 2) Just set stuff up for the kids to do and then back out. 3) Do a bit more planning for my own information, so that I can remember a few key points in the middle of the madness of it all, like serving sandwiches before dessert. 4) Ted and I need to do more division of labor ahead of time so I don’t wind up running around trying to do it all and feeling the pressure of that much responsibility. I’m not a person who’s really comfortable in big groups, and it tends to make my head wobble and my brain slosh about and my eyes cross. Collaboration is good, and delegation is necessary.
There were some great high points.
- Emily was so happy to pet the bunnies. She stood in the middle of a number of them and reached down to pat them, a huge smile on her face.
- Hazel loved seeing all her friends. She took them upstairs to see her room, and when I came upstairs, about eight of them were jumping on the mattress on the floor. That made me happy.
- Bunnies are exceptionally cute.
- It was nice to talk with various other parents. This whole being the adult/parent thing is still somewhat bizarre to me, even in my 46th year of life. It helps to connect with other parents.
- Remembering Hazel’s birth and childhood, and marveling about how much she’s grown, the person she’s developing into, as I watched her run around with her friends.
During the kids’ nap we vegged. Then we had party number two, with Hazel’s wonderful nannies and a few friends. Some of the same lessons from above apply, but that was a bit more my speed, and I didn’t get light-headed and have to sit down.
There were a few more presents, a lot of great conversation, good food, and playing. It warms my heart to see so many of the people who love Hazel and us all in one place. The women who are our kids’ nannies are our friends, our chosen family. We are so lucky to have them.
By the time our own bedtime arrived last night I was exhausted, and so was Ted. Today we’ll put up Hazel’s growth chart in the kids’ bedroom and mark off her 5th Birthday height on it. Also today she’ll get the last piece of chocolate cake she and I made together. And today I’ll try to find some cuddle time for her and me. She whined “Mama” at me all day yesterday in increasingly intense volume and tone, and I was struggling by the end of the day to find ways to answer her calmly. I think it will help us to spend a bit of time together.
Next year, maybe one party only. Or two parties on different days.
But even so, even with all the over-the-topness of yesterday’s happenings, it’s good. It’s part of life. It’s part of Hazel’s story, and ours. It’s full of love and togetherness, lessons and realizations, community and childhood. As much as I sometimes find being a parent an exercise in constant mistake-making and challenge, it is also an experience that broadens and deepens my life, gives richness and variety, and expands my horizons. Hazel, my firstborn and beloved daughter, is my partner on this path. I am grateful for her presence in my life.