I may have mentioned once or twice that Sam is way into sports these days. He’s absolutely the cutest about it. The other day Alex took the little dudes on the Metro to the museums, and Sam found a sports section on the train, brought it home, and dutifully tried to absorb all the information from it that he could.
So, a few weeks ago, when Sam was asking for all sorts of extravagant destination birthday parties, I carefully suggested a sports-themed home party. His eyes lit up and he got totally behind the idea, asking for modest things like a piñata and a pin the basketball on the player party game.
For all the grief I give Sam, he is really an easily satisfied guy when it really comes down to it. I love him very, very much. Furthermore, I can’t believe he’s eight years old. And that he has man-feet nearly as big as mine.
In recent years, I’ve had pretty small parties for Sam, which I think is great and perfect and wonderful and easy. This year I invited 18 kids (including my own), and created personalized sporty shirts for each child. We were ready to party!
We also had about 40 balloons, thanks to a free coupon from Balloon Time. I gave Alex the job of filling the balloons about an hour before the party started. It was maybe the most fun hour of my kids’ young lives. But before the fun, Alex insisted that, “This tank doesn’t have any helium in it! It’s supposed to have something in it, but this one is empty! This tank is empty!”
Then I walked over and pushed the little nozzle down and it started to fill a balloon with helium.
Which, in turn, led Alex to make his own little gesture at me.
Kids started to arrive right on time, and on what seems to have been the last warm, sunny day of fall. Thank God, because if I’d had to let 18 kids play baseball inside my house, I wouldn’t be this chipper now. We let all the kids play around for about a half hour and then I went out amidst them to set up my obstacle course.
All attention was on the back lawn as I did so. Kids were watching; the parents who stuck around were watching; only Quinn wasn’t watching. Quinn was carefreely running across my yard. And Alex kicked a soccer ball as hard as he could halfway across the lawn…directly into Quinn’s shins.
The kid dropped like a fucking rock.
Man, he could not have done that on purpose if he’d tried. I can’t quite imagine the geometry and chance that brought Quinn and that soccer ball together, but oh, dear lord, was it funny. I think it might make me a bad mom to admit that I busted up laughing, but if so, every other adult there is just as bad as me, because we all burst out laughing. Even Alex laughed. Although to give him credit, he did it with his head turned away from Quinn as he hugged and comforted him.
Quinn did not laugh.
I looked a little bit like a moron as I ran around the yard with Sam, a whistle, and a megaphone explaining the course, but the kids were way into it. Plus! I learned that I probably would have made a good drill sergeant.
I hadn’t really planned the obstacle course, other than looking up “obstacle courses for kids” on the internet a couple of hours before the party, and searching the garage for sticks and balls. But, if I may toot my own horn (or megaphone), it was AWESOME!
In the garage, I did find a most excellent balance beam, otherwise known as a two by four.
And I remembered that we had a tunnel in the basement, so I tossed that on the lawn too. I didn’t realize until a bunch of 8-year-olds showed up though that the tunnel was almost comically too small for them. It was hysterical to see all those giant boys try to wiggle through it.
Jack did all right though.
After that, I forced the kids into teams for a relay race. Here is Quinn quite obviously cheating.
The kids all demanded to know what team had won. I didn’t have a good answer, because they all kind of dithered all over the place, at least half of the kids cheated like Quinn, and I wasn’t really paying very close attention.
I suggested that maybe they all won. They didn’t buy it. One helpful kid said that it was “kind of a tie.” And then another kid said, “No. Everybody lost.”
Yay! Everyone’s a loser at Stimey’s house!
But everybody gets to be noisy.
Evidently there’s a reason Alex and I are married. He may have taken Quinn down with a soccer ball, but I walked straight past Sam mugging Jack for the megaphone, stopping only long enough to snap a photo. In my defense, they were both giggling. Sort of.
Next up (Are you tired yet? Because I sure was.) was Tape the Basketball on Sam. It never ceases to amaze me how much kids love shit like this. How often will you have 18 (or 17—one kid didn’t want to play) kids standing patiently around for a four-second chance to tape a piece of paper to another piece of paper?
I’m not going to say there weren’t attempts at peeking and some carefully feeling their way toward the center of the paper with their fingers, but they all did pretty well.
Blah, blah, blah, happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear Sam(uel), happy birthday to you…
Followed by the frantic fifteen minutes of cake cutting and ice cream scooping that is the bane of any birthday party host’s existence. At some point, I rushed back into the kitchen from distributing plates of cake to find my cake cutter (Alex) calmly leaning against the counter eating his own piece of cake.
There might have been some frantic berating at this point.
Next up, piñata time. This is the time in every Stimeyland party when Stimey and Alex nearly divorce because Stimey hisses at Alex to help with the bat, goddammit, and Alex hisses back that he can’t do a single damn thing other than hold the piñata string and why don’t you put down the camera and do it your damn self, or get one of the other fifty grown ups to help, and then Stimey hisses back something obscene, and then the incident is quickly forgotten as all the parents rush around trying to keep
Stimey from taking a whack at Alex with the bat any kids from being hit by a wildly swinging bat.
Here’s a tip: if you want a piñata to actually break open when the kids are batting at it, get a spherical one. That is the shape that doesn’t need a parent to go all Office Space on it after the kids fail to bust it open.
That said, I now present to you the greatest piñata photo ever taken:
Sam was delighted to be serenaded. Nearby diners also enjoyed his enjoyment.