We finally managed to get around to having Jack’s birthday party last weekend. I deviated a little from my traditional “run around —> pin the something on the something —> eat pizza —> eat cake —> bash a piñata —> go home” party. This time, instead of “pin the something on the something,” we did LEGO Robotics.
Sadly, that meant we couldn’t invite as many kids as we wanted to, especially considering that when you have three kids of your own, you fill up your guest list really fast.
Regardless, we had an awesome time (for the most part), and I have some common sense tips for hosting an awesome LEGO Robotics birthday party.
Tip 1: Buy a hammock. I cannot stress this one enough.
This photo taken before the party guests tested
the weight capacity of said hammock. I think our capacity
record was six kids. Maybe more.
The Hammock District should be sending me thanks for all the hammock sales we inspired that day.
Tip 2: Have awesome friends. This one is also important, because only awesome friends can cause anticipation such as this:
When did Jack get so tall?
Also, only awesome friends will hand-make cards like this one:
Tip 3: Purchase the proper snacks. I certainly hope you all know the Team Stimey party menu by now: Oreos, Doritos, potato chips, square pizza from the local pizzeria. Lately Jack has been obsessed with Chips Ahoy, so I bought a bag of them as well and put them in a bowl on the table.
I’m not entirely sure that Jack ate even one, because SOMEONE parked himself in a chair in front of the snack table with a book, put the bowl on his lap, and commenced to eating.
I’m pretty sure he ate the whole bag.
Round about 8:30 p.m., he was all, “I dooooon’t feeeeeeeel gooooood.” Yeah. It’s too bad you don’t have better parents, Quinn—responsible parents who would stop you after 15 cookies.
Tip 4: Hire Adventures with Robots (AWR). So, do you remember The Awesome? Remember when Jack took LEGO Robotics at school and he kept wanting to mail himself to the classroom where they held the class because he wanted to do LEGO Robotics ALL THE TIME? Yeah. That was this company.
One of the cool things about AWR is that when I emailed them about the party, I mentioned that Jack was autistic and that several of his guests were as well. They immediately suggested one particular party leader who is a special educator and they worked with me to find a time that he could be the one at the party.
Once he was there, the dude was really good about working with the kids, including Jack, who was all, “I do want I want. Even though I requested a spinning top robotics party, I will create something entirely different.”
The guy in charge was all, “It’s his birthday; he can do whatever he wants.” Awesomesauce. It was chaotic and fun and wonderful.
If you’re wondering what the actual project was, here is Sam’s totally correct and on target version:
He was more interested than he looks here.
AWR requests that you have an adult helper available to assist with the building and programming. As it turned out, a lot of parents stayed and, quite honestly, seemed to enjoy building the spinning tops as much as the kids did. Regardless, Alex acted as that adult helper, aiding Quinn and his likewise-aged buddy in building their tops. Evidently he found it…frustrating. Alex will not be applying for an AWR job anytime soon.
This is not the face he was making before I pointed the camera at him.
We had the AWR guy for an hour and 15 minutes, but most of the kids wandered off after about 45 minutes. The lure of the hammock and the beautiful day outside was too big an enticement. Nonetheless, I consider the event a smashing success, mostly because of this:
Later, Alex asked Jack what his favorite part of the party was
and he said, “LEGO Robotics at my house.”
I was talking to the guy later, as he was packing up 16 million LEGOs and I made a comment about how there is always a lot of chaos at my house. He responded with, “Yeah, but I see a lot of smiles too, so that’s good.”
That’s just about right on target there, sir.
Tip 5: Have a quiet room. It seemed wise to designate a room as a quiet space for kids who needed a break from the action. I think it is possible that Alex is the only person who used it as intended.
I mean, Jack did play in there and at one point he went missing and, after a hard target search, I found him quietly reading by himself in Sam’s room.
This was during the middle, stressful part of the party.
Maybe he didn’t go to the designated quiet room because Quinn took a break from his Chips Ahoy station to sabotage my efforts at calm. (The forces of entropy are strong in our house.)
Very early in the party, Quinn came to me practically unable to contain his laughter and asked me for tape. He was “improving” the quiet room sign, he said.
“ruff house room”
Seriously, Quinn could not have been more pleased with himself. He almost couldn’t stand, he was laughing so hard. He was all, “I made the quiet room way more fun.”
Tip 6: Book proper musical accompaniment. In this case, a young male flautist.
Remind me sometime to tell you about Sam’s band concert.
He dragged his chair, stand, flute, and music all the way out to the backyard prior to finally settling on a spot in the living room.
Tip 7: Reserve the cake ceremony for the proper moment. In the case of this party, the cake brought Jack out of a funk brought on by something I am not entirely sure of, but ended in his dragging himself across the living room by his fists and claiming that his legs didn’t work because he was so angry.
I’m not sure what anger has to do with the muscles in his legs, but evidently they are related in Jack’s physiology.
Also, putting candles in a cake restores leg function, apparently.
That would also explain the caddywampus candles.
Tip 8: A piñata makes every party a smashing success. (Get it? Ha, ha.) Of course, there are some very specific steps you have to take to make the piñata the best it can be.
1. Find a super adorable personified robot and beat the crap out of it.
2. Desperately hope that every child gets a turn at whacking the piñata before it breaks apart.
3. Bring in your oldest, strongest kid to “Finish it, Sam! Finish it!”
4. Feel slightly sad for Corpsey McRobot.
5. Watch one of the children dress in the corpse’s skin.
6. Watch that child grin and eat candy while wearing his face.
And that is how you host an awesome LEGO Robotics Birthday Party.