Saturday. The big day. It would either be a rousing success or instantly spell out our doom. We would survive or die trying. It was Cameron’s birthday party.
As you’ll recall we had a 100% turnout on invitations, meaning we were expecting more than a dozen children to show up. Once we realized just how many kids were going to be at this party we decided that some reinforcements might be necessary. So we called the arcade where we were having the party and asked to add a party host. They politely said with that many kids we’d have to hire two (good to know they weren’t any more confident than we were that we could control this many kids.)
The morning of the party sped by. We had to get all of us showered, dressed, fed breakfast, and pick up the cake all by 10:00. The kids were really excited for the party though so it didn’t take much to get them to follow directions and get ready to go. We arrived at the arcade about 20 minutes before the party was set to start, and got ourselves signed in.
I understand they’ve got to keep track of people coming in, but they seriously make the process much more difficult than they need to. I had to give them a list with all of our guests names on it, and they checked each name off as people arrived. Why not just ask me how many people I’m expecting and then make yourself some tallys as they arrive. It’d go a heck of a lot quicker. But that’s beside the point.
We got to our party room and waited for everyone to arrive. We felt we had a pretty good mix of kids coming to the party. We had a couple of Cameron’s cousins, one of Brendan’s friends (so Bren wouldn’t be the only 9 year old) and his little brother, 4 kids from Cameron’s current pre-school class, a couple of our neighbors, and Cameron’s little girlfriend from his old daycare.
Every kid knew at least one other person besides Cameron, except for his friend from the old daycare. I mean she knew Matt and I as well since she’s been over to play at the house but she didn’t know any of the other kids. Unfortunately she’s also a little shy so she had a rough time the entire party. If she wasn’t seated next to Matt, myself, or Cameron she would burst into tears and cry for her mom and dad. We felt so bad for her, especially since she and Cameron had been so excited that they’d get to spend a few hours playing together.
But we made it through lunch, cake, and presents with only minor problems (mainly that the party hosts thought it would be a great idea to give 5-6 year old boys balloon swords and then didn’t expect them to run around yelling and whacking everything in sight…).
The hardest part of the party was after that. We had an hour after our time in the party room where the kids could play in the arcade. This was where the party hosts would really earn their keep. The way it was explained to me on the phone they would take the kids to different parts of the arcade and let them play for a bit before moving onto the next section. But as we’re standing in the party room one of the hosts says to me that once we’re out in the arcade they’d split the kids into groups and each one of the adults could take them around the arcade.
My first thought was no way. Don’t get me wrong, Matt and I had no problem taking care of the kids we’d invited but Matt’s sister, her parents, and one of the kids mom’s were also there and I wasn’t about to have them take care of the kids we’d invited. But I got distracted before I could clarify further and decided to let it go until we actually got out into the arcade.
In addition to the arcade games I’d paid for each child to get 3 rides on the two mini-roller coasters they had. I thought the rides might actually take up a good chunk of the hour and I was right. And during the time the kids were riding the rides Matt and I made a game plan for the remainder of the party. Since the majority of the kids were around age 5 we decided to have them all go to the “busy works” section of the arcade which is a small jungle gym and more simplistic games. There’s only one entrance and exit to the section which would allow us to keep the kids sequestered into one area and still had enough stuff to keep them enteretained.
It worked well except that Brendan and his friend were too old to play in that area. You had to be 7 or under. No problem, I sent Matt off with the two boys, and our next door neighbor (she’s 7) while I kept the rest of the kids. With a bit of help from Matt’s sister the rest of the party flew by very smoothly. The hardest part at that point was keeping track of which kids had been picked up and which hadn’t. But eventually all kids were accounted for and we headed for home.
The remainder of Saturday was spent resting. As is generally the case when he’s exposed to a lot of noise and commotion Brendan was a bit out of sorts but we were able to keep him distracted and pretty well under control. Sunday was a different matter. We’d originally decided to take it easy for the bulk of the day since the kids had had such a full day on Saturday.
Brendan had a couple of outbursts in the morning. It seemed that having so much attention showered on his brother was just too much for him to bear. We decided a little distraction might be in order, so we offered to take the boys out so they could spend the money from their piggy banks (plus Cameron’s birthday money, but we didn’t call attention to that part). It worked like a dream. We ended up spending almost 4 hours wandering from place to place and letting the boys look for things they wanted to get.
In retrospect it may have been a bit much. We brought the boys home to open their new goodies and intended to let them spend the remainder of the afternoon and evening enjoying their haul. Within 20 minutes however, they were fighting like cats and dogs. Okay then, plan B. It was still fairly nice outside (despite the fact that Mother Nature has a sick and demented sense of humor and seems to want winter to last forever this year), so we sent the kids out back. They usually get along fairly well when running around in the backyard so we thought this might allow them to run off some excess energy and get the grumpies out.
Unfortunately that was not the case. Within moments they were bickering again and we ended up needing to bring Brendand inside because he was having a meltdown (in front of our neighbors I might add–something I really hate). The evening went from bad to worse and soon all of us were in foul moods. We made it through the evening, and put the kids to bed a bit sooner than usual so that everyone could get a good night’s sleep and hopefully reset themselves for the next day.
It seems to have worked. The kids woke up this morning in better spirits, and we made it through the morning routine without any outbursts. I’m hoping now that we’re past Cameron’s birthday Brendan can get back into a more standard routine and the number of meltdowns he’s having will decrease.