This past Saturday the family and I decided to take on a bit more responsibility. We could have adopted a dog but we decided to take on more of a challenge. We hosted an 8-year-old’s birthday party for my son.
This year, like most years, I threw everything together with about a week to spare and Dollarama helped me out for 99 per cent of it. That made everything easy. What wasn’t easy, was corralling five kids under the age of 10 at virtual reality for an hour.
I used to run a day home so I thought I was prepared but at the end of the day I was glad I had called in a friend from Calgary as a reinforcement.
It only took a bit of raised voices and snapping of fingers in the air to make the kids pay attention to the informative movie before virtual reality began. It took a lot of raised voices to remind the kids to “put on the wrist bands of the controllers,” and it took even more raised voices to explain eight times how to operate the menu, but eventually, everyone was playing.
For the next hour, we three adults just walked back and forth and made sure the wrists bands were always on and that no one was walking into a wall. A few of them did anyway.
The hard part of the day was the feast portion of the event after the virtual reality portion.
We herded the group upstairs to the party room. For the first two or three birthdays I went all out with the decorations and planning. This weekend we had a table cloth and some paper plates. The kids didn’t care about the decorations they were too concerned about which beverages and food would be served.
That’s where the cracks in the planning started to appear.
Party kid No. 2 only drinks tap water, not just any tap water thought. It has to be from the town we live in. We were not in the town that we live in. So we risked dehydration and he was left without a drink. I offered various solutions, including buying water from the concession downstairs but after many refusals, he got sidetracked by some Cheetos and didn’t bring it up again.
Party kid No. 3 proudly declared, “I’ve never had pop before,” which should have been a red flag but I was already pretty overstimulated and my rational reasoning was waning. I just told him that that was what birthdays were for and divvied out the pop. After about 15 minutes I understood why party kid number No. 3 wasn’t allowed pop. For the next four hours, he constantly asked for the sugar syrup in a can. At one point he approached me, double-fisting two cans of Pepsi, eyes wide, asking for more.
Party kid number No. 4 didn’t like the cake because it didn’t look like what his mom made (it never does). he managed to eat two pieces though.
After half an hour it looked like locusts had swept through the room. There were remnants of cake, candy and chips all over.
We had survived. Almost.
Leaving the lobby, party kid No. 5 spotted the claw machines. Unfortunately for us, he had brought his wallet so there wasn’t much we could do to stop him. We spent the next ten minutes crowded around the claw machined watching with bated breath as the one kid tried his luck. Big surprise, we walked away empty-handed.
The fight over who got to ride in the very back of the luxurious, hot rod that is the Ford Flex was also something I was not prepared for. We got that sorted though and soon we were able to shuttle everyone back to our house. The kids got in a fight over who was older and turning certain ages.
I used that moment to point out that my son isn’t actually turning eight. He is going into his ninth year of life. The first year of your life is measured in months then you ‘turn one,’ but you’ve already been alive for a year so you’re actually ‘turning two.’
That went over like a lead balloon for the kids but the adults were quiet for the rest of the ride home. Which I needed.