Birthday burnout – Lacombe Express

Last Saturday, the family and I decided to take on a bit more responsibility. We could have adopted a dog but we decided to take on more challenges. We hosted an 8 year old’s birthday party for my son.

This year, like most years, I threw everything in about a week early and Dollarama got me 99 percent through. It made everything easy. What wasn’t easy was getting five kids under the age of 10 together in virtual reality for an hour.

I used to race one day at home, so I thought I was ready, but at the end of the day, I was glad I called a friend from Calgary for backup.

It only took a few high voices and finger snaps to get the kids to pay attention to the informative film before the virtual reality. It took a lot of high voices to remind the kids to “put on the controller wristbands,” and it took even more high voices to explain how to use the menu eight times, but eventually everyone was playing.

For the next hour we three adults just walked back and forth and made sure the bracelets were still on and no one walked into a wall. A few did it anyway.

The hardest part of the day was the party part of the event after the virtual reality part.

We led the group upstairs to the village hall. For the first two or three birthdays, I went all out with decorations and planning. This weekend we had a tablecloth and paper plates. The kids didn’t care about the decorations, they were too concerned about the drinks and food that would be served.

This is where the cracks in the planning started to show.

Party boy #2 only drinks tap water, not just any water. It must be from the city we live in. We were not in the city where we live. So we risked dehydration and he ended up without a drink. I offered various solutions, including buying water from the concession downstairs, but after many refusals, he got distracted by Cheetos and didn’t talk about it again.

Party boy #3 proudly declared, “I’ve never had pop before,” which should have been a red flag, but I was already overstimulated enough and my rational reasoning was failing. I just told her that’s what birthdays are for and shared the pop. After about 15 minutes I figured out why party boy #3 wasn’t allowed to drink. For the next four hours, he constantly asked for canned sugar syrup. At one point, he approached me, holding two cans of Pepsi, his eyes wide, asking for more.

Party boy #4 didn’t like the cake because it didn’t look like his mom made (it never does), he still managed to eat two pieces.

After half an hour, it looked like crickets had crossed the room. There were leftover cakes, candies and crisps everywhere.

We had survived. Almost.

Leaving the lobby, party animal #5 spotted the claw machines. Unfortunately for us, he had brought his wallet, so there was not much we could do to stop him. We spent the next ten minutes huddled around the machined claw eagerly watching the only child try his luck. Big surprise, we left empty handed.

The fight over who got to ride in the back of the luxurious hot rod that is the Ford Flex was also something I wasn’t prepared for. We sorted that out and were quickly able to get everyone home. The children argued over who was the oldest and who had reached certain ages.

I took advantage of this moment to point out that my son is not eight years old. He is entering his ninth year of life. The first year of your life is counted in months, then you “turn a year”, but you have already been alive for a year, so you “turn two years”.

It went like a lead balloon for the kids, but the adults were quiet for the rest of the ride back. What I needed.


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