This past weekend, I took Helen to a birthday party for one of her classmates at daycare. Her parents meant well, but honestly, a 3-year old's birthday party is one of the most excruciating forms of torture known to man. It's a good thing the Taliban hasn't seen one of these celebrations. We wouldn't make it out alive, folks.
It was a Disney Princess Theme Party, and her older sister (15 years old) dressed up as Belle from Beauty & the Beast and put makeup on all the girls. "Belle" even sang a beautiful song from her soundtrack when the cake came out. It was a bit surreal. She did a great job, but it felt really awkward. Whatever happened to "Happy Birthday"?
By the way, good thing Brian didn't come to the party. I think he might not have approved of the makeup.
Aside from the parents who invited me and the birthday girl, I didn't know a soul there. They had invited a bunch of their friends and family and neighbors, so there were a bunch of adults and plenty of their kids running around.
The only truly awesome part of the party was the giant bouncy castle, appropriately decorated with the Disney princesses. At first, Helen seemed interested and dutifully climbed inside. With 2 other girls already jumping, however, it was a little too much for her and she panicked. She really wanted out. Since I had the camera ready to go, I got a picture before helping her out.
Later that afternoon, she realized how many kids were squealing with joy rather than in fear or pain, and she screwed up her courage to get inside. And then, I couldn't get her out of it. The sun had started to go down, and the air had turned a little chilly, and still she wanted to jump.
These days, it's rough on parents at these parties. We're expected to stay and enjoy ourselves, but there's not a single thing for us to do. At this age, we have to watch our kids, because other parents aren't allowed to. There was a giant bouncy castle outside, and an NFL game on in the house. I couldn't go inside to watch the game without leaving Helen with a yard full of strangers. Yet, I couldn't bring her inside because all the fun for her was in the yard. So I kept wandering around, making sure she wasn't getting into trouble, and standing on the fringes of the party, hoping I could join a conversation nearby. But since everyone was either related or knew each other, I was the odd one out. The hosts were nice, but they were busy making sure the party was running smoothly. So, while I watched Helen have a ball, the whole time all I wanted to do was go home.
Finally, after an eternity, they brought out cake and then opened presents. Two and a half hours after it started, the nerve-wracking torture was over. Oh, the things we endure for our kids. MATERNAL SACRIFICE, YO.