But a new and enigmatic escapade crept up on us this week, serving as a reminder that there’s always something else to decipher on this journey called parenthood. That new and enigmatic escapade? The Birthday Party.
Elle is turning 3. This we knew. What we didn’t fully realize, not immediately at least, was that this particular birthday wasn’t going to revolve around us and what we felt was appropriate for our daughter’s birthday… like the two previous birthday parties, in which Elle wandered around happily oblivious to the fact that her birthday party was really just a bunch of our friends and their kids getting together, the only difference from any other gathering being the fact that there was cake and a birthday song. But our daughter is turning 3. And when you are turning 3, a birthday party featuring your parents’ social agendas really doesn’t fly.
So we are planning our first real birthday party for our child. And we have no idea what we’re doing.
The impending birthday celebration has been the focus of our dinnertime conversation for the past week. Seeing as we have no background in throwing 3-year-old’s birthday parties, we must turn to our only definitive source of information on such matters: 3-year-old Elle, who has become the party planner.
“I want a cake with vanilla frosting and green sprinkles.”
“I want Lilly, and Christopher, and Bree, and Sage. And I want Lilly’s dad. And Christopher’s dad.”
“And I want birthday hats.”
So I know I’m making a cake with green sprinkles, and I know who’s on the guest list (although I had to explain to Elle that we may have to extend the invitation to more adults than just Lilly and Christopher’s dads). I’m still working on the birthday hats, though. It turns out those pointy cardboard hats that I seem to remember being a staple at parties when I was a child are no longer part of the contemporary child’s party assemblage. There are Dora the Explorer cupcake foils that match Dora the Explorer birthday candles. There are Dora plastic spinning tops that match the cupcake foils and the birthday candles that go inside Dora party favor bags. There are even Dora piñatas. But there are no pointy cardboard birthday hats – matching the chosen Dora the Explorer theme or otherwise. My first trip to Wal-Mart in many years confirmed this.
So while the green sprinkled-cake and (thankfully not extensive) guest list are well within my grasp, I’m still uncertain about a few details of this party. Like, what do you DO at a 3-year-old’s birthday party?
I asked Elle the Party Planner what we should do at her birthday party.
“I don’t know.”
What? But, you’re the Party Planner!
“Well, what would you like to do at your birthday party?”
“I don’t know.”
So Lilly and Christopher and Bree and Sage and Lilly’s dad and Christopher’s dad will come, and they will eat cake with green sprinkles. But they won’t wear hats, since I don’t know where to get any. I think we need more of a plan.
What does one do at a young child’s party? Play Pin the Tail on the Donkey? Smack a piñata? Both sound like they require a bit more physical coordination than a group of 3-year-olds can realistically muster.
I summoned memories of my earliest birthday parties, in hopes of drumming up some inspiration for the coming fete. There was cake, and friends, and those pointy birthday hats… otherwise, I remember little more than running amuck.
Is that all a child’s birthday party really is? I wondered. Friends running amuck on a cake-fueled sugar buzz?
Sounds like a plan. But I do think I need to track down those hats…