Sunday, August 11, 2013

Birthday Party Blues-A Call for Help

Guys, here's the thing.  I'm not creative.  At all.  Never have been.

I suspected this might be the case when I was in kindergarten, and my suspicions were confirmed in first grade.  This is causing me grief now, but let me give you some background on the extent of the problem.

Kindergarten Thanksgiving
In kindergarten my class celebrated Thanksgiving by learning about the pilgrims.  The class was divided into 2 groups: Native Americans and Pilgrims.  We had a little program and we spent class time making costumes for our respective roles.  I was in the Native American group. The kids who were Native Americans made feather headdresses and outfits made of paper bags (I don't think this happens anymore...).  We also made necklaces.  There was a station set up where we could choose from a variety of colorful noodles of various shapes, fruit loops, and buckeyes with holes drilled through the center.  I busied myself making my necklace, not paying attention to the other kids.  My teacher approached me, concerned about my necklace.  I had chosen to only use buckeyes to make my necklace.  I disliked my teacher's condescending suggestion that I add noodles or fruit loops.  I knew that the Native Americans would never wear necklaces made of pasta or cereal.  Pasta, no matter how colorful, could never be a bead.  The idea was absurd.  Clearly, if I wanted an authentic-looking Native American necklace my only available bead option was the buckeye.  I remember being embarrassed for the other kids during our program as they wore there colorful food necklaces.  I honestly remember thinking, "I hope these adults don't think I'm one of these kids...."

First Grade Coloring Contest
In first grade as Halloween was approaching our teachers announced there would be a coloring contest.    We were supposed to color this print out of a scarecrow.  Easy.  I had just assembled a scarecrow a few weeks earlier and I knew what one looked like.  This was before I became too competitive.  I didn't really care about the coloring contest but as I saw the progress of the other children's pages, I knew I had this one in the bag.  They were coloring their scarecrows all wrong.  Heh.  Kids. They don't even know which colors to use.

I colored my scarecrow the right way.  The straw was a careful blend of yellowish-brown.  The bibs were blue.  The shirt was red and the patch on the knee was also red (to match, of course).  The posts were brown.  The sky was blue.  The grass was green.  The crows were black.  Easy.

When the results on the contest were posted I was so upset.  I wasn't upset that I didn't win, I was upset that the winner did everything wrong.  They colored the straw purple.  The bibs were swirls of color.  The crows were yellow.  The posts were blue.  What kind of madness is this!?  There is no such thing as purple straw!  Everybody knows crows are not blue!  Who has ever seen multi-colored overalls!?  Frankly, I though it was irresponsible for the judges to encourage that type of naive thinking.  It wasn't just the winner, either.  The halls were lined with pictures colored similarly.  Mine was the only one colored realistically.

That is when I realized that I don't have an imagination.  As a kid, I was pretty okay with it and considered it a strength of sorts.  Now I see that lack of creativity should be a legitimate disability.

My Point
You might be wondering why I am telling you this.  Here's the thing, guys.  Popeye's birthday is next month.  Before, birthdays were pretty low-key.  We had cake and a gift but not really a party.  The kids didn't know any better and they were totally fine with it.

Now things are different.  Popeye is older.  She has been anxiously anticipating her 4th birthday since Christmas.  She has  expectations.  She knows people have parties.  With themes.  Oh, guys.  This is a lot of pressure.  I don't know anything about planning birthday parties.  Here is what Popeye is thinking:

P: Mom, is it my birthday yet?
Me: Almost!  What do you want for your birthday, anyway?  (I was seriously thinking she would ask for paint or a batman cape or a pirate costume).
P: I want to wear a beautiful gown and dance with a handsome boy...or a frog who is really a prince.

I looked at her to see if she was serious.  She was dead serious.  She saw nothing peculiar about her request.  Continuing...

P: There will be cake and pretty lights and balloons and music.  Maybe fairies.
Me: ....Hmm....wouldn't you rather have a new toy?  Or movie?  Or book?  Or all three, even?
P: Course not.  It's my birthday.

Later that evening as we sat at the dinner table:

Me: P, tell your dad what you want for your birthday.
P: To dance with a handsome boy and magical stuff.
Chris: (Looks up, panicked and concerned)
P: I don't want to kiss him, though.  I don't think my dad will like that.
Chris: (Smiles, proud and relieved) That's right.
P: So I'll just have to wait to kiss him until I'm older.
Chris: Like until you are 31?
P: No, like for two hours.
Chris: (Hangs head in defeat)

I suppose you didn't need to know that last part to understand my dilemma.  I just added it because I thought it was funny.

So now you guys understand my predicament.  She is expecting something big.  I have no access to handsome, young, dancing boys.  I also don't know any fairies.  I don't know anything.  I don't know what to do to give this kid the great birthday party that I really want her to have.

That is why I need your help.  Yes.  You.  Don't act confused.  I've seen those pictures you shamelessly post about the flawless parties you throw for your children.  I've seen those posts and I have wept.  I need a party.  I need a party that she will appreciate and that will be wonderful.  And don't say that she will just appreciate any effort I put into a party, either.

Give me ideas.  Concrete ideas.  Ideas that I cannot ruin (don't give me ideas you saw on Pinterest that require creativity or skill.  I don't have either of those and I will mess it up).  Ideas that I can carry out that won't cost a bajillion dollars.  Carrie.  Melissa.  I am talking to you guys.  I really need help.  Ready?  Go.


Sarah-Ann Binning said...

Pull the Christmas lights out of the storage unit and string them across the room, and around the room, to create a fun "twinkly-night sky."

Make cupcakes that look like Frog Princes. (Magically delicious!) Here's a recipe:

Ask all the guests to dress to the nines and pamper the kids. Paint toe nails, do each others hair, and maybe even wear makeup if you're comfortable with letting 4 years do such a thing.

SInce a handsome prince is in short supply, let Dad step in and offer his supreme dancing skills for a special dance with the birthday girl.

Connie said...

I just have one question before I give this any consideration. Who will be invited to this party? That does make a difference!

Amy McFarlane said...

I found this website for a princess party and all of the ideas seem doable, even if you think you are craftily challenged :) easy games, activities, and cupcakes.

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