Saturday, September 11, 2004



Oh, I jest. Such the kidder I am. The child and I successfully made it through Day Three of single parenthood. I am the alpha parent.

Today's main event was a birthday party for another five year-old. This party featured booze and clowns, a winning combination for parents if I ever heard one.

The party started at 10:00am, and they had orange juice on the table along with chilled champagne, a bottle of vodka and a big batch of what looked like bloody marys. Oh, and they also had a bunch of food for kids blah blah blah. Anyway, even though I wasn't going to start up some heavy boozing with a full day of parenting ahead of me, I was impressed at the thoroughness of their party preparation. Vodka is rarely featured at the kindergarten-age birthday parties I frequent.

The highlight of the party, from my perspective anyway, was the arrival of the clown. This poor guy was dressed up in full clown glory, novelty shoes and all, standing in the sun on a hot San Francisco day. The sweat started pouring off him mere minutes into his routine. He managed to keep his composure though.

Soon though, he asked for some audience participation. Since the willing audience consisted entirely of five year-olds, anarchy immediately ensued. One child launched himself at the clown's oversized shoes, hell-bent on squashing them. Another child wrapped himself around the clown's legs and would not let go. The clown attempted to joke himself out of this, but these kids were not easily removed from his body. At this point the clown broke down and begged for "a clown's assistant" to come forward and help him. I can only assume that this was a plea for parental assistance. Unfortunately for the clown, no one budged. All the parents watched this abomination dispassionately. I don't know if that was the booze settling in, or if the parents were just so pleased to have someone else bear the brunt of misbehaving children, or if this just seemed like entertainment that was too fine to interrupt. It was the latter for me. Regardless, the clown was forced to physically rip the children from his various limbs. Amazingly, he did so with no obvious malice. Make this reason number 56 why I will never be a clown.

The other bit of "entertainment" was the pinata. Pinatas have somehow become a staple of children's birthday parties. I don't know who originally thought that giving five year-olds bats was a good idea in a party setting, but the kids wield these babies like Charleton Heston. From their cold dead hands!

One day, after some kid accidentally maims another during an unfortunately pinata incident, the press will pick up on this and a national outcry will ensue. Until then, we're stuck with the pinata.

As near as I can tell, there are two kinds of pinatas: the kind you bash with a bat, and then the pacifist kind where you pull strings at the bottom and one of the strings unleashes the torrential stream of goodies. This pinata appeared to be the latter kind, but that didn't stop each of the kids from wailing on this poor image of Spongebob with their plastic bat. Meanwhile, my daughter kept saying "Pull the string! Pull the strings!" but she was mostly ignored.

Each of the kids got two or three turns at poor Bob before they eventually tried yanking on the strings, but nothing seemed to release the candy from its squarepanted jail. Finally one of the parents yelled out, "Let the kids at it, Lord of the Flies style!" This is a quote you rarely hear at a birthday full of five year-olds, yet somehow it resonated with the parents. Within the minute, the children had been encouraged to tear at the pinata with their bare hands. Soon treats and toys spilled out and the children dog-piled to get at them. The meeker children (ok, just my kid) got left out and many tears were spilled, but we eventually got the goodies distributed in a reasonable fashion. Civility reigned once again.

After all this, the rest of the day was pretty easy. Three down, one to go.

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