Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Peace, Love and Transformers

My eldest is turning six this week.  It's a bit of a landmark age as he is decidedly no longer a baby and definitely now a kid.  At four I could tell myself he was still baby-ish and at five I could be totally in denial, but six... six is grade one.  Six is BIG.  Six is well beyond "where the hell did the time go" and entering the city limits of "holy crap am I old".  Six.  Wow.

My husband and I do this every year (and now, twice a year!) to ourselves.  What are we going do for his birthday party?  Last year, when the babies were still very tiny and barely home from the NICU we took Quinn and his friends bowling.  It was awesome.  They did the games, the food, the loot bags... we just brought cupcakes and our wallet.  Sha-ZAM!

Like a lot of people, we are now down to one income and looking for ways to save money.  We are also slackers and realized that we had two weeks to pull this all together (and that left a lot of kid friendly reservations out of the question).  As it turns out, we also seem to have short memories as we have forgotten what it is like to have a bunch of kids thundering through the house.  Let's have it at home, we thought.  But what kind of party?  Recently I tie dyed two pink shirts for Quinn for Pink Shirt Day and it was so easy, Sean offered "why don't we do a tie dye party?"

I'm not an artist but there definitely is a part of my soul where the colours dance.  "Yeeeaaah!"  I answered, "that is an AWESOME idea!"

We priced out the materials and sent the invitations.  I did my research and figured out exactly how I was going to [try to!]  keep six 5 to 6 year olds from dyeing each other.  This would work.  This was do-able.  This was going to be fabulous!

I figured the party favours would be no-brainers.  Peace signs, flowers, doves... things that said "groovy" or "far out".  Not exactly rocket science.  The people at the party supply shop were a different story, however;  after running around the store in a panic, I approached a nice young man who looked like he would know what I was talking about as, lets face it, even his hair looked stoned.  I got a blank "Ah-wha'?" for my troubles.  A second, very caffeinated person that my very mellow friend conferred with, looked at both of us with scorn and asked "you mean 60th BIRTHDAY?!"  At my head shake and attempt at an explanation I found them both staring at me, mouths slightly open.  It was then that I realized that Austin Powers was over 15 years ago and that I was really bloody old (and quite possibly completely daft).

The day of the party dawned cloudy, but the sun came out and warmed it into a nice day.  The kids trickled in, one by one.  A few parents (that we also happen to be good friends with) hung around and my Mom visited us for the day.  We had to throw the shirts into the washing machine as they all had to be damp for the best results, so as we were waiting, we did our craft.  I had forgotten that most of them were daycare kids and therefore, preternaturally crafty.  They were all super fast and done before I had a chance to think again, so I put their shoes and coats on them and threw them outside with some chalk to decorate the fence.  I got enough time to get the shirts out of the washer and wrap up our shirts and show the parents what I meant when my girlfriend opened the door to what we thought was screaming.  Turns out, it was chanting: "Tie Dye Par-TY!  Tie Dye Par-TY!".  This should have been heeded as what was to come (and this is before sugar). They all galloped in and we got ready to tie up our shirts.  

The kids had a fabulous time deciding what they wanted to do to their shirts.  Once everyone had a arranged their rubber bands, I has them come out to the yard one by one. They picked their colours and critiqued my technique.  One of my friends had brought a giant smock that they were in turn wrapped up in and I had picked up some small gloves for them to work with.  I think they thought that the rubber gloves were the coolest thing ever, as they all stood there like mini surgeons with their hands up until they had to point something out, which they did proudly, all the while admiring their gloves.  The kids were amazing.  They told me all about rainbows and the sky and their take on the Earth (Sunday was Earth Day as well). Again, this was before the snacks.  As I was finished each shirt and explained to its designer that it had to stay with me a bit longer, I told them to go in and get something to eat.

I'm so proud of my little artists!
You may be surprised to learn that we are not big on processed sugar around here (at least, when it comes to the kids).  They had their choice of 100% fruit juice (no added sugar), milk or water and veggies, fruit and chips/party mix to eat (it's a party, you need some junk). There was still a lot of natural sugar to be had, so they were all happily bouncing around screaming playing in the basement. One of the Dads kindly volunteered to supervise and had to switch out with another parent due to sensory overload (and that's with him having only partial hearing)!  He told them he had to go check on the adults and (creepily) in unison, they answered "Good!  It's too quiet up there!"

It was no where near time for cake, so I thought I'd grab a snack and chill for a minute. I was jolted from my veggies and Pepsi (I get the added sugar) by another chant, this time: "CAKE!  CAKE!  CAKE..." that shook the floor.  Well, I'd better get that cake rocking then. After my small mishap with cake sparklers (don't ask...), the kids gallumphed upstairs and we sang Happy Birthday to Quinn. 

About 20 minutes later both the sugar and the following epiphany hit:

Giving children sugar is exactly the same as giving adults alcohol.

It's true.  Compare the birthday party to the average adult party.  I use boys as an example but trust me, it is the same with girls.  It starts off easy with the mutual friend introductions.

Host: "This is Bobby, he is my school friend and this is Johnny and we swim together.  Both of you like Transformers!  Yay!
Bobby: "I like the Autobots!"
Johnny: "I like the Decepticons!  Let's play!"
Bobby: "Roll out!"

Host: "This is Bob.  He and I went to uni together.  This is Jean, we work together.  You both are hockey fanatics.
Bob: "Boston?"
Jean: "Nope.  Montreal."
Bob: "Cool.  Beer?"

As both parties go on, they get louder and louder.  "Cake!  Cake! Cake!"  "Chug! Chug! Chug!".  Finally, as things are winding down, the refined sugar cake and ice cream comes out.  For grownups, there's shots.  Suddenly, what was previously a fun time, is not.

In both cases, something gets knocked over, spilled or broken.  Everything is really loud and boisterous and inevitably, someone is crying.  Finally all it takes is one bad look and this happens:

Bobby: "Autobots are the best"
Johnny: "Decepticons RULE!"
Bobby: "TAKE THAT DECEPTICON!"

Bob: "Guy LaFleur.. oh yeah, there's an athlete!  How much did he smoke a day again?
Jean: "Prob-bab-lee less, den dat twat, Bobby h'Orr!"
Bob: "☠☠☠☠ YOU!"

...And in both cases, it is ON!

Eventually, people start going home.  In our case, we still had a bunch of boys and one girl left in the basement, holding her own in what was rapidly becoming The Lord of the Flies.  Thankfully, it was pretty easy with the kids:  we separated the Autobots and the Decepticons and peace and love was restored to the universe.  With grown ups, it usually doesn't end until somebody calls the cops.

No one got hurt and everyone now has a piece of wearable art.   At least for the majority of the afternoon it was a celebration. Quinn got what every kid really wants too, to play with his friends.  We had a little more to celebrate than usual as my Mom and Quinn share a birthday (hers is a milestone number this year as well).  Zoe got her first taste of potato chips as she cruised everyone's plates and later got a burst of sugar herself when she got a lick (or two) of icing.  (She later flumped into a heap in the middle of her crib and did not wake up until late the next morning).  Wyatt decided that it was a perfect day to sit up all on his own, which he did and surprised a whole room of adults.  He has yet to repeat his performance, but it was enough to make a room full of parents happy.

The next week or so is full of appointments and tests and all sorts of medical things for Wyatt.  There will be anxious feelings and sleepless nights.  There will be planning and sorting and organizing until we are exhausted and crabby and don't feel like talking any more.  This entry, for the most part, isn't about Wyatt or Down Syndrome or the usual things... so much so that I considered posting it on my other blog.  It is however, about family and the people in it.  Sometimes we take the front seat, sometimes we take the back.  This week is all about Quinn and his birthday.  Soon, it will be all Wyatt again.   In the meantime, we will celebrate what a wonderful big dude Quinn is becoming and the great guy he will one day become.  This week is about changes, happy thoughts... and cake.

Peace and Love, Baby.

Roll out!
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