It would seem that my little man is quite popular in his Kindergarten class. I make this assessment because for the second time this school year he was invited to a birthday party for one of his classmates. When the invitation arrived in the mail Cameron could not have been more excited about it. He was quite disappointed to find out that he’d have to wait two whole weeks before he got to actually go to the birthday party. We were excited for him too, but more than a little hesitant to say that he could go. We weren’t being over protective of him by any means, it’s just that the last time he was invited to a birthday party it was a disaster.
The first party took place back in the October/November time frame. One of Cameron’s classmates was turning 6 and having his birthday party at the local bowling alley. I’ve taken the kids bowling a few times and Cameron was excited that he got to go bowling with his friends. Matt had to work on the day of the party so I loaded up all three kids into the car and headed for the party. The bowling alley is quite large so my intention was to drop Cameron off with his friends and then take the other two kids bowling elsewhere in the alley, keeping them sufficiently entertained and still on hand to squash any problems that might arise with Cameron at the party.
Cameron was excited for the party up to the moment we walked through the front door. The lights inside are somewhat dim and there’s noise coming at you from every direction. The arcade blares music off to the left, shrieks of joy and laughter filter their way out of the laser tag maze, and every where you go you hear the sounds of a bowling ball being rolled down a lane and the sounds of pins falling down. Unsure myself where we were supposed to go I took his hand and led him through the commotion with Brendan hanging onto Kaylee behind me.
After a couple of minutes we found the birthday party, but by then Cameron had had enough. He did not want to stay at the party. I even offered to stay at the party with him, but he was too upset at that point. So, reluctantly, I handed over the present we’d brought and apologized profusely to the parents about Cameron being to scared to stay. They were quite understanding about the whole thing, but still I felt bad that they’d planned extra food and treats for Cameron and he wouldn’t be there to consume them.
The only other time he’s been to a birthday party was with his little girl friend from pre-school. He did stay at that one by himself last spring, but truthfully he almost didn’t. The only thing that allowed him to stay there was that he knew the parents, and that he loved the little girl so very much. With those being our only experiences with Cameron at a birthday party it’s pretty easy to see why we might not want to say he could go to this one.
In the end his excitement both of the particular friend that was having the party and his excitement over the venue won out. The party was being held at a local business which has nothing but giant bouncy houses in it. The thought of being able to run and jump through the bouncy houses with his friends made Cameron shriek with joy. The party was scheduled for a Friday night and would last a little under two hours.
Matt and I decided to load the whole family up and go out that night. The party was far enough away from home that by the time we dropped Cameron off and came home it would be just about time to turn around and pick him up again. And since we weren’t sure if one of us would have to stay with him or not we decided that all of us should go. That way if we didn’t need to stay we could all go out and do something fun, and if we did need to stay the second parent could take the other two kids out somewhere while the first stayed with Cameron.
We pulled up to the building a few minutes early and decided to wait in the car until it was time. Cameron was practically bouncing off the walls of the van, he could not wait to get inside for the party. Finally it was time to go in. Cameron was a bit subdued by the time we walked through the front door. He glanced around the entryway of the building and took in his surroundings silently. We met up with the parents of the birthday boy who explained how the evening would go. Somewhere in the midst of that conversation Cameron found his friend and immediately reverted back to the gas molecule we’d just seen in the car. A few last minute instructions from Matt and I, some hugs and calls of “have fun” and we were off.
I was really surprised by the difference in dropping him off at this party versus the one last fall. Some of it I suppose could be attributed to the fact that Cameron is 6 months older and has had some time to mature. But I think too that the venue had something to do with it. Walking into that building was a very different experience from walking into the bowling alley. For starters it was brightly lit, and the walls painted with bold a bold primary color palate that’s perfect for kids his age. And it was a much quieter environment as well. Not to say that it wasn’t noisy, after all you had about half a dozen 5 and 6 year olds running through the room, but comparatively it was more akin to a library setting.
And it really could be that Cameron is much closer friends with this boy than he was with the first. After all they’d only been in school for a couple of months when the first party occurred and hadn’t had time to forge good friendships yet. Since that party I’ve never heard Cameron talk about the other little boy at all, whereas I hear about this little boy pretty much every day. He and Cameron play at recess together a lot of the time.
All in all the party was a complete success. Cameron had so much fun that he was mad when I showed up to take him home. Even though he could see all of his friends leaving he wanted to stay and play with his birthday buddy for a few more hours. It took some coaxing but I finally got him into his coat and headed for the car.
Matt and I were both quite proud of how Cameron handled the birthday party and are looking forward to many more opportunities to let him go places with his friends.