Here's the conversation that didn't happen:
Daisy: Daddy! I know what I'd like to do for my birthday party this year!
Me: Yeah? What's that?
Daisy: I'd like for it to be a surprise! I'd like for you and mom to plan a party where I don't know what's going to happen.
Me: Uh, no. Do you want to go bowling or miniature golfing?
Daisy: Well, I was hoping for a party where's there's some kind of plot that you guys make up.
Me: And I was hoping for a kid who wanted to go bowling or mini-golfing.
Instead, this conversation happened:
Daisy: Mama! I know what I'd like to do for my birthday party this year!
Hank: What's that, sweetheart?
Daisy: I'd like for it to be a surprise! I'd like for you to plan a party where I don't know what's going to happen.
Daisy: Oh, thank you! Thank you, mama!
Then, a month later, one week before Daisy's birthday, this little chat happened:
Daisy: Mama, have you finished the script for my party yet?
Hank: The, uh, script? Uh.... no, not quite yet.
I couldn't help but laugh when Hank told me about this. Look, it's not that I don't love my kid, but my birthday party duties generally only include moving heavy items or keeping guest injuries to a legally defensible level, and not screen play writing. I was not on board with this whole "script" plan. I would have never agreed to this idea.
Hank, however, was committed, so she spent many hours the next week laying out a plot, devising puzzles, and recruiting people to play roles. We also spent an afternoon with the couple who was probably responsible for Daisy thinking that this was a reasonable request for a birthday party. Hank brainstormed ideas with them while I made faces at them behind their backs. The division of labor in our relationship is pretty well-defined.
Although the key prop for the party (a box that could be locked with a specifically configured 4-number combination padlock) wasn't found until an hour before party time, it all somehow came together. One sister-in-law, one dramatically inclined close friend, one coworker who just happens to be an accomplished improvisational actress, and a series of puzzles led the children from one neighborhood destination to another, culminating in this group of 11 year-old girls finally cracking the code, opening the locked box and retrieving the fictitious documents that were going to save our beautiful neighborhood from an evil real estate developer. The kids, having been trained by the San Francisco school system from an early age to fear and hate big business, cheered heartily at the outcome.
If Daisy wants another surprise next year, she'll be super surprised to find herself going mini golfing.