Wednesday 07 Dec 2016

Laser Tag and Cake
Jennifer Flaten

Whew, kids’ birthday parties are a lot of work.

Oh, heaven’s no, I didn’t host a birthday party. I am crazy but not that crazy, but there’s a limit. As you know, the closest I get to a birthday party is a cupcake with sprinkles and a candle. It’s like a first date, no sprinkles, no intimacy for me and the cupcakes.

No, one of the children received that most coveted of things, an invitation to a birthday party. Just the mere receipt of the invitation causes the invitee to dance around the house singing. “I got invited to a birthday party,” he sang, for a good solid hour.

After that, the fun just keeps mounting. Preceding the party, the kid will talk incessantly about the upcoming party, even in his sleep. This causes his siblings, with maternal approval, to contemplate duct taping his mouth shut.

The speculation includes, but isn’t limited to, what kind of cake. What games the party-goes get to play. Will there be a goody.

The invitee seems to forget a gift is necessary. When questioned about the inviter’s preferences, the invitee, who should know about the gift, suddenly claims no idea what the birthday kid likes. This leads to a trip the toy store, where the invitee will they stand agog in the toy aisle unable to make a decision. 

Birthday present shopping is extremely hard for kids. They want to buy everything for themselves. The birthday kid matter little.

Most often, when you get home you have to pry the toy out of their hands and they practically weep as you wrap it up. You would think, at this point, it couldn’t be any more fun, but it can. Now it is time to drive the kid to the party.

Be prepared to wait, the birthday party never starts on time. Don’t think the waiting is over simply because the kid is at the party. No, now you wait for the party to be over.

You wait in the parking lot. There’s not much else to do. Can’t shop, for example, in the mere ninety minutes it takes for a birthday party involving kids.

At last, it is time to pick up the invitee, who by now is hyper-hyped on sugar and laser tag adrenaline that you have to hit him with a tranquilizer dart just to get him out the door. For this part, it is extremely critical that you have the ability to drive and go “uh huh,” every twenty seconds. During the drive home, the kid will go into excruciating detail, sometimes even drawing a diagram of events at the birthday party. Thankfully, you are exempt from looking at the diagram because you are driving.

Keep in mind the entire thing is in kid-speak, which includes many “cool,” “uhms” and “ya knows.” Such paralanguage drips with meaning for the kid. It means nothing to the driver. Once home you can chose to put the kid to bed or perhaps stick your head in the oven, whichever you prefer, as the effect is the  same.

You would think that would be the end of it, but no, then you have a week of the kid reminding his siblings how much fun he had at the party. At this point, the uninvited children are hatching a plot to super glue the invited kids lips together, not that that it happened, yet, but may well. A side note, super glue is not water-soluble.

Jennifer Flaten lives where the local delicacy is fried cheese, Wisconsin. She writes about family life, its amusing or not so amusing moments. "At least it's not another article on global warming," she says. Jennifer bakes a mean banana bread and admits an unusual attraction to balloon animals and cup cakes. Busy preparing for the zombie apocalypse, she stills finds time to write "As I See It," her witty, too often true column. "My urge to write," says Jennifer, "is driven by my love of cupcakes, with sprinkles on top. Who wouldn't write for cupcakes, with sprinkles," she wonders.

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