I have decided that my children's birthday parties are bad for my health.
My daughter invited seven girls and one boy to her party today. She wanted to have a princess and queen party; it morphed into a pirate and pirate princess party. Mistake #1. My daughter has always loved treasure hunts. I honestly laughed to myself and thought: This will be easy!
Sounding familiar? No wonder my husband is always telling me I'm "totally unrealistic." I used to argue vehemently and claim to be an optimist, but now I'm beginning to agree with him.
I practiced making a pirate ship birthday cake yesterday. Mistake #2. A friend had given me some helpful tips. I found examples on the Internet. I really thought I could do it. I spent a lot of time on it. It was totally lop-sided with frosting mixed in with cake almost everywhere. When no one was looking, half of it tipped over. I felt totally defeated. It looked awful. I let my kids stick in the toothpicks taped with orange flags with skulls and crossbones printed in black. My husband complimented it. Maybe he was so exhausted he was seeing double, or had forgotten what it was I was trying to build. Maybe he had given up offering constructive criticism to my attempts at creative projects. Or maybe the little flags really made a difference. Either way it didn't bolster my confidence or decrease my stress level. I made cupcakes today instead.
I decided I could save money and make my own treasure chest pinata. Mistake #3. It became a hugely stressful project as my daughter reminded me that "it has to look just like a treasure chest." Because it was so stressful, I left it for the last possible moment. I filled a US post office box with tons of fun little toys and candy. It was too heavy. I wrapped it with light brown paper. Carefully. And then realized I had forgotten to secure it with a string. Time was up. I had to cut it open. I laced the string through quickly. I taped it back up like a mad woman. I had to hide it quickly. After a treasure hunt with clues and spyglasses they found the treasure chest, but none recognized it as one. Then, I tried to string it up. The string broke. I casually tossed the contents onto the floor. They didn't seem to mind. I was devastated due to the huge amount of stress I had wasted on it.
I thought it would be fun for the kids to paint. Mistake #4. No explanation necessary.
I thought it would be simple and enjoyable for the kids to make bead necklaces. Mistake #5. Again, no explanation necessary.
A friend recommended we play "walk the plank." Mistake #6. I moved our sturdy art table alongside the back of the couch, leading up to a huge love sac (big cushion) on the floor at one end. When I showed another friend the idea and asked how long she thought it would keep the kids busy, she said, "Oh, I think they'll play that until you tell them to stop." She was right. There were four kids that refused to leave the "walk the plank" game, and any time there was even the briefest lull in activities, all ten kids rushed into our family room to walk the plank - or rather, run and twist/flip/launch off the plank. To avoid getting into additional gory and embarrassing details, suffice it to say that there was not enough adult supervision in the room with this game - which lasted the duration of the party.
All I know is that I cannot do this again. I feel like I've aged an extra ten years while planning and executing these latest two birthdays. Next year I am going to start saving early so that I can pay a large corporation to take care of their birthdays - the YMCA, a gymnastics business, a bounce house, even Chuck-e-cheese, ANY-thing will do. Actually, I think I'll start saving tomorrow.