Sunday, July 27, 2008

We threw a birthday party for Daisy today for her 9th birthday. 17 small children, between the ages of 5 and 13 descended upon our house to wreak their own special brand of destruction.

There were two major activities planned for the party: a murder mystery game and a performance by a magician.

The murder mystery game went pretty well. Each kid had a role to play and Hank played the role of Host, keeping things moving along and prodding the kids when it was their turn to act. Daisy enjoyed it immensely and a few other kids got into it too. Mostly it was illuminating for me to see the broad range of reading abilities in these kids. Some of Daisy's friends were top-notch readers and performers and others were... uh... not.

After the murderer was found, we stuffed the kids full of sugary cupcakes and juice. Then, once they were topped-off with nitroglycerin-like energy, we looked at the clock and realized that we had an hour to kill before the magician got there. Doh!

At this moment I realized how right I had been before the party, when I had suggested to my wife that we spike the cupcakes with quaaludes and valium. I mouthed "I told you so!" to her, but she was busy finding new ways/orifices for the kids to consume sugar.

The kids buzzed around the house looking for things to throw, sweets to eat, and sticky substances to smear onto surfaces. They moved like a swarm of voracious ants through our house, wolfing down (and dropping) chocolate chips, juice, strawberries, pretzels, frosting, celery, and I swear I'm missing a tube of toothpaste. One kid in particular mowed through the celery, chewing each piece like cud, and then dropping the thoroughly masticated bits wherever he happened to be.

It was carnage. I checked the time. 57 minutes left.

Years of parenting experience have taught me that my favorite number of children is somewhere between 1 and 0, well below the 17 that were in our household. I waded through the children wriggling around in some sort of sugar-induced floor spasms and found my wife.

"Hey, I'm, uh, going to go see if the magician has arrived yet!" I cried, running out of the house.

I stepped out onto the street and looked carefully both ways down the street. Twice. Then I inspected the road to make sure that nothing would obstruct her car. Then I reluctantly returned back to the party. The kids had temporarily organized themselves into some sort of game, but every few seconds a couple kids would launch out of the group and ricochet down the hall, leaving a trail of frosting and juice. After about 60 seconds of this, I declared that it was time to check on the magician again, and I sprinted out the front door.

One of the parents in attendance followed me out with her five year-old, who occupied herself with some of our outdoor toys. I stayed outside for as long as I could justify and then announced that I had to return to the party, but that the parent should fetch me at the merest hint of a magician arrival.

"How will I know when the magician arrives?" she asked. "Will she be coming by flying carpet or in a puff of smoke?"

I trusted her to solve this riddle and I went back to the party. By this point a few kids were rolling listlessly on the carpet while others were burrowing into tiny nooks and crannies, clearly planning to hunker down for a hibernation now that they had fattened themselves with all manners of glucose, sucrose, and fructose. A few children had organized a game of sit-on-each-other, which was charming. I surveyed the scene and then jettisoned myself back outside again.

"Any sign of the magician?" I desperately asked the outside parent.

"Nope. One wizard came by, but I told him to keep on trucking." she replied.

I sighed and checked the time on my phone. Infinity minutes remained. I lingered outside, enjoying the frosting-free surfaces. A few of my neighbors strolled by and I explained my predicament, pleading for their help to entertain our mob.

"You could take the kids down to the smoothie place for a while?" one of them helpfully offered.

"No! No more sugar!" I cried.

"Well, take them to the bar then."

"Ooooh! Brilliant! Each kid gets one beer and one smoke! You're a genius!" I exclaimed

The thought of returning the kids to their parents drunk and stinking of tobacco really cheered me up, so I returned back to the party. That good mood burned off fairly quickly, soon after I was confronted by the unruly mob and their collection of pre-chewed celery, so I immediately resumed my biminutely check for the magician.

She eventually arrived (via car) after what was probably the longest hour of my life. I have never been so goddamn happy to see a magician.

More on her next time.


Mystery Maiden said...

Haha wow, sounds like a wild party! It's amazing how well the kids pick up the mystery games. About the reading level - it's not just kids. I have hosted many adult parties where I notice the same discrepancy in reading levels!

Leigh Clements
The Mystery Maiden
Shot In The Dark

Sue said...

You poor man!

Why didn't you play another game? Though I admit, not too many indoor games can handle 17 kids of differing ages. When that happens to me, its "Out you go! Go play! Shoo! Shoo!" But I suppose, being a SFer, you don't have much of a yard, n'est-ce pas?

But most importantly, was Daisy OK with her party?

Megan S. said...

Awww sounds fun! When Em had her 8th birthday party, we set up a tent in the back, did camping activities, and when we ran out of ideas sent them on a 'nature walk' with a scavenger list. Daddy got to go (he was only slightly less thrilled than you would be, believe me), so I could cook hot dogs at home and get ready for crafts. Movies are never a bad idea. (Unless you are a super cool parent that doesn't believe in movies for kids. Then I have no comment. I have the DVD going in the back of the van right now and there's no one in it.)

I was at a party myself over the weekend and by sheer luck, the mother is French and so were some of the other moms. Usually I wait until 5 to down a cocktail but when at the French mama's house, who was I to say no? I was supposed to go to the gym but had far more fun. Viva la France! Or something.

I try to limit the guest # to the age of the child. Also, 2 hours tops for any party with the under 21 set. Emily to SF for her 16th birthday, taking 2 friends with her on Bart. I stayed in the background, ready to jump in with credit cards as needed.

Happy Birthday Daisy!!!

tinyhands said...

Hmmm, I have childhood memories of mom & dad loading me down with sugar, but then when I got into the hyper zone it was, "ok, now go push the lawnmower" or "hey, move this pile of bricks from the driveway to the side-yard."

Mike said...

Hi Leigh! You may be right about the reading. I've had issue discussion "parties" where we read ballot measures and discussed them and was surprised at some people's inability to speak with any clarity.

Sue, in the end, Daisy did organize some other games (like something called "Murder" or "Mafia"), but I was out of my element. All my games involve gambling or shooting aliens on a computer screen.

Megan, your rule about the number of kids being equal to the age of the kid is a great one. We should have been doing that all along!

Tiny, that's a great idea! Come on over for cupcakes and then we can "play" in my backyard!

Megan S. said...

also booze for the adults is never a bad idea...

Mike said...

Meg, we didn't even have room for many adults, let alone drunk ones. I do, however, have fond memories of attending a kid birthday party where they had plenty of vodka and champagne.

Avery Gray said...

Two words: Rock. Band.

Or have you broken it already?

But, seriously, when are they going to come out with something like "Classical Symphony" that all 17 children could have played on at once? Damn, I need to write a letter.

Mike said...

Worst idea ever! First, it's a 3 (or 4) person game. Second, it was in the room we had to keep clear for the magician. Third, who the hell wants to listen to 9 year-olds sing?