Birthday parties for kids are terrible events. They're devoid of creativity and filled with expense. (They're also filled with kids, which is obviously annoying, but there's not much you can do about that).
Sometimes parents get it right though. Last weekend I attended one such party.
We all gathered at the birthday girl's house, with the kids running around doing whatever the hell it is that 9 year-old girls do. I assume it involved imagining themselves marrying unicorns. Suddenly there was a horrible screeching outside. I thought it sounded like some late-arriving guest had suffered a particularly painful dismemberment. Daisy thought that cats were fighting.
The source of the noise banged up the front steps and pounded on the door.
The hostess opened the front door and a young woman rushed in, tripping over herself trying to explain that she had just been robbed. She excitedly told us all how she had been carrying her grandmother's jewels when she was robbed, but in a bizarre twist, the robber gave her an envelope before running off. The woman paused at this point, introduced herself as a tourist from Australia, and apologized for barging in. She asked for our help.
The party had begun.
Inside the envelope, which "the tourist" handed to the birthday girl, was the first clue in a treasure hunt that ultimately led the kids through the charming West Portal neighborhood of San Francisco, looking for more clues in various stores, nooks, and buildings. The clues had been written the week before by the birthday girl's mom, and were being hidden just in time at each one of the clue locations by the girl's older brother, who stayed a block ahead of the party-goers at all times. I traipsed behind the pack of girls, along with the other parents, watching the kids race around finding and decoding the clues.
Daisy had a great time, and at the end of the party I chastised the birthday girl's mother for setting the bar so goddamn high. Thanks for spoiling my child for bowling parties, lady.
When Daisy and I drove home after the party, she asked me if all that stuff with the tourist was what was supposed to happen.
Me: What do you think?
Daisy: I don't know.
Me: Well, you knew that the party was going to be some sort of scavenger or treasure hunt, right?
Me: So, I guess there are two possibilities here. Either they planned that whole thing with the Australian tourist, or instead they had planned some completely different scavenger/treasure hunt and then it got interrupted by the Australian tourist activity, which just happened to also turn into a treasure hunt. Right?
Me: And you're not sure which of those choices it is?
So, I taught my daughter about Occam's Razor.