Thursday, August 15, 2013

And the parties don't stop

If I were to lay out the itinerary my family stuck to this past weekend you would probably think that my wife and I had gone bonkers. So I feel I should preemptively explain that it was one of those things where we didn’t plan the two-day schedule in a very linear way, but rather kept adding things in because they made sense at the time and/or couldn’t be reasonably accommodated in our calendar any other way. The little guy had been asking when he would get to have another sleepover at his grandparents’ (my in-laws’) house, since he had quite enjoyed the experience last October. We picked the second weekend in August because my wife was working the first and fourth weekends and my in-laws planned to leave on a week’s vacation the third weekend. Then we figured since we were going to be in that neck of the woods, we might as well try to get together with one of my wife’s old friends (and her husband and kids) and that evolved into a plan for Sunday brunch, which was scooted up to breakfast when the little guy was invited to a birthday party taking place Sunday afternoon. My wife and I planned on going out to dinner on Saturday night, since we’d not only be able to avail ourselves of sitters but really, the whole point of sleeping over and grandma and poppop’s is that mom and dad aren’t around and the dynamic is completely different. (Plus: sleeping bags. Last time the little girl was still sleeping in a pack-n-play but this time she had a brand new Minnie Mouse sleeping bag, which was pretty sweet.) And then once we got to town and got to talking to my wife’s dad he pointed out that we still had yet to sample the recently opened hometown microbrewery, which might make a good place for a pre-dinner drink, and the man was just talking good sense.

So that’s more or less how we ended up getting up on Saturday morning, getting everyone ready and packing the car, having lunch, driving to my in-laws, having tea with them as well as a couple of family friends, leaving the two older kids and taking the baby (who mostly slept, sometimes nursed, occasionally goggled and cooed) first to the Center of the Universe Brewing Company, then over to Thai Gourmet, then to a local ice cream parlor (because we had overstayed the closing of the kitchen before we got dessert at the restaurant), and back to the in-laws’ for some sleep. The older kids woke up at something like 5:30 the next morning, and thankfully poppop was willing and able to get up with them, but my wife and the baby and I followed shortly after, got everyone dressed and re-packed the car, met up with our friends at Aunt Sarah’s Pancake House, then hit the highway again (all the kids fell asleep on that leg of the trip) and drove straight to the birthday party, where we stayed for quite a while before finally returning home, feeding the big kids a quick dinner, and then more or less everyone going to bed at the same time.

Don’t get me wrong, it was a fun weekend, and it never felt particularly stressful. I’m still not sure I would have signed up for the whole package all at once if it had been presented to me as such, because it makes me feel old and tired just typing it up after the fact right now, but somehow we managed and I’m glad we did. If it seems like I’m overemphasizing the eating-of-meals aspect of the happenings, that’s probably just indicative of how our life as a family works right now. Everybody’s got to eat, and you really don’t want to have to deal with little kids or especially toddlers who’ve been forced to skip a meal. And though we may be luckier than most in our particular case, when it comes down to it, all kids are somewhat picky eaters, so feeding them requires that much more forethought and planning and whatnot. So we tend to combine socializing with meals because otherwise there would be no time for socializing. And even when we get a little break from the kids, we still tend to celebrate with some kind of eating activity (e.g. going out for sushi) because it’s not as though we can go out and partake in consciousness-altering recreations that leave us unable to pick up the parenting where we left off when we get home.

Anyway, so on Sunday the little guy and little girl had pancakes with whipped cream and chocolate chips for breakfast (technically second breakfast, after they had some fruit and Cheerios at their grandparents’), and then the birthday party was technically lunch as they each had a hot dog, plus cookies and cupcakes and Kool-Aid and candy from the pinata, and then for dinner they had blue box mac and cheese. Good times! But if the birthday party was the centerpiece of the day (it pretty much was) then the day’s menu was all of a piece. Usually I’m more interested in documenting the funny and profound things my kids say, versus other people’s kids, but the birthday girl (whom our little guy met in a toddler gymboree-type session years ago, which was also where my wife met the girl’s mom, and so they’re all friends, and I finally met the dad at this party and we spent a good bit of time in his basement where he showed off some of his rare comics and action figures - our families clearly need to hang out more) … where was I? Right, the birthday girl, according to her own mother, when asked what she wanted for her birthday party outlined her grand vision as follows: “A bucket of Sprite, a pinata full of Smarties, and 64 friends.” And the end result came pretty close to that! Sugar, more sugar, and your buddies; seems like a reasonable approximation of a childhood idyll to me.

Somehow (probably because it takes us a long time to get ourselves and our brood motivated and moving) we were the last guests to leave the party other than immediate family, and of course right as we were trying to herd our kids toward the door the little guy had taken an intense interest in the birthday girl's Batcave playset. I had to assure him that he could come back to play with his friend (and her Batman toys) some other time, and then I had to make him say happy birthday and goodbye, and of course he took that opportunity to tell his little friend he could come over and play Batman with her some other time. And his friend's delighted response was "Yeah! Maybe we could have a sleepover!"

I deferred to the birthday girl's mother on that one. Perhaps by the time our little guy has his birthday party in a couple weeks, that notion will be forgotten. If not, I guess we'll all just sort it out then.

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