We celebrated my son's birthday last Sunday at a local park. For the weeks leading up to it I was going back and forth about how to plan this thing. I'm just not a good party planner. My birthdays always suck. Although I did plan a kickass New Year's party at my brother-in-law's house in Israel. We partied like it was 1999. In fact it was 1999. Uch, I'm old.
My husband and I decided we'd just do something simple at the park and invite a few of his friends from school and a few family friends. Then my husband spoke to our friends who were having their daughter's fourth birthday party the day before in Berkeley. And they were having everyone from her preschool, baking homemade pizza, planning all kinds of games and MAKING a pinata. George Jesus. How I am going to compete with all that. People. Take it down a notch. You're making the average mothers look really bad here.
So then my head started to spin a bit. Not unlike a bashed-in, homemade pinata. What the hell can we do to spruce up this party? I wasn't super excited about the thought of leading a bunch of four year olds in games. And yet we had reached the point where we couldn't just invite folks to play at a park and call it a party. The kids needed some structure. But I never thought of my son as a kid who likes to participate in games. Since he never does.
So I came up with one game - the going to work race. My son's favorite activity when he gets home from school is to put on my shoes, get his purse with his keys and go to work. He works in San Francisco he recently told me. I figured I'd bring twelve pairs of shoes and twelve purses or bags and line them and make the kids walk across the lawn "going to work". I also ordered a cake from my brother's neighbor in the shape of a Motorola flip phone with happy birthday written in the screen. Then I decided I'd pimp out my husband and make him do gymnastics tricks for the kids and maybe teach them a few tumbles. The only wild card was my son. Who knew if he'd participate at all. Or if he'd want any attention on him. He had the power to completely sabotage any and all plans. So we stuck with our two random party games and hoped for the best.
The day finally arrived and I channeled the spirit of Barney. As my son's friends started to arrive he greeted each one with a sprint in their direction and a bear hug. Who is this child? Pleasantly surprised would be an understatement. Once there was a critical mass I called all of the kids to do follow the leader and I marched them around the lawn doing overhead claps and giant steps and shark claps and monkey jumps. Then my brilliant mom came up with the hokey pokey. My son actually knew the words and sang the whole thing. Then we did the "work" race which was a hit. And after we went to a little hill and my husband showed the kids how to tumble down. Then he walked on his hands and did some cartwheels. The guest were sufficiently impressed. That completed the entertainment portion of the party and then it was time for lunch. So we sat around on blankets and ate pizza. Then we put Shalev in a little chair and sang happy birthday to him and lifted him four times and one for good luck as is the Israeli tradition. Then he saw his cake and just about died. MOTOROLA CAKE! I know, we're weird.
All in all I have to say it was a surprisingly great birthday. No tantrums. No whining. And no one threw up. The three criteria by which every party should be measured. I give it a ten.