We waited until this past Sunday to have Rosalind’s birthday party. This marked the first year we had a “friend” party instead of a family one. I had always intended that she would have a friend party after starting Kindergarten, but moving to Alaska really solidified that plan.
It super stresses me out to host things. It is no secret to those that read this blog that I am not social. I have taught myself many skills over the years for coping with social situations to the point that many people who only know me as an adult would guess I am an extrovert, if an awkward one. Like any true introvert, though, my batteries deplete in social situations. Especially those in which I am the leader.
Anyway, I do these things because my child is NOT an introvert. It isn’t fair to her to deny her something normal because I am afraid or uncomfortable. This is a pretty constant battle I wage with myself regarding Rosalind. When she jumps into the limelight I have to force myself to allow her to do so and not yank her right off whatever makeshift stage she has created. I have gone so far as to excuse myself from rooms where she is holding court in order not to witness her playfulness. My stage fright works through her and I still find myself dizzy and sweaty and red. If she were being truly obnoxious I would obviously remove her from that situation, but I am talking about normal kid play. Usually she is one of several children participating. I just don’t deal well with that sort of thing. A N Y W A Y, this was not supposed to be about me at all. I just point all of that out to try and paint a picture of how worked up I can get over something as silly and low-key as a sixth birthday party.
First, I worried about where to have the party. This pretty much took care of itself as the pool is really the only place in Bethel to have a party outside of your own home. Then I worried over how to get decorations. We got them in Nevada. Talk about prepared. I worried about who to invite. The whole class? To the pool? What if their parents leave? Can I handle 20 five year olds swimming? Just some of the class? Is that rude? What about friends outside the school? Do I have enough supplies for all my ideas combined? No. Just Girl Scouts? Can I scrap the whole thing and make her have a sleepover with just two friends? Not really, because our toilet doesn’t flush with regularity and we don’t have extra sheets. Inwardly hyperventilate. And so on. And so forth.
So we invited her Girl Scout troop and two outside of school/scouts friends. Seemed perfect. Then I realized that they probably wouldn’t all come. And then I realized that it was possible NOBODY would come. At all. My nightmare. So I bought more invitations and let her invite six more people from class, orchestrating it with her teacher to pass them out in a way that nobody would be aware until they got home and therefore no feelings could be hurt.
Then I panicked over food. This comes naturally. My parents taught me three rules for social situations: always arrive early, overdress, and have twice as much food as you need. This has translated into always being early, still being a chronic underdresser, and always ALWAYS having three or four times as much food as necessary. The party was at one. Not lunch, right? So we needed snacks. Healthy snacks or just snacks? Individually packaged? That costs a small fortune in Bethel. Package them ourselves! So many packages of pub mix and apples! And all the Capri Suns! And don’t forget stuff in case the parents hang around, which I dearly hope they will because it is a bunch of tiny children swimming!
My head is a super fun place to live isn’t it?
In the end, I made a lot of packages of snacks and a four layer ombre cake. I had tons of capri suns and a mini fridge full of San Pelligrinos for adults. I had a huge bowl full of jelly beans and gumballs. I had goody cups full of candy. And how much was eaten? Like one bag of pub mix, no apples, two juices, no sodas, and a slice of cake. And ALL OF THE CANDY! Or at least a lot of it.
The turnout was great. Almost all had RSVP’d, so I knew what I was getting into. Two parents stayed, which was helpful because I was counting 11 children like clockwork on my own while Sergio cleaned the party room. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11. All still alive. Start again.
It didn’t help that the pool requires real showers and appropriate attire and I had 10 little girls who all needed help changing and one little boy that wouldn’t go in the girl’s locker room with us or in the boy’s locker room alone and I was trying to get us all into the pool at the same time.
It all worked out. Rosalind had a great time, which she was able to articulate to us the following day when she had recovered from total exhaustion. After her party she just flat passed out for two hours and woke up grumpy. By that night my lower back was so tight that I was near tears and it was just because I deal with social stress in a weird way. And from the outside this was just a totally normal, calm, small birthday function for a child. Because that’s what it really was. Everywhere but my brain.
Here a few pictures. I can’t post most of what we took because they are full of children you don’t know and whose parents I don’t really know to ask if I can post pictures of their kid’s on the internet. Safe bet is no.
Oh! The cake! Is supposed to be a blueish turquoise. It is as green as spring grass. And then I threw jelly beans around it without much thinking about it. It looks like a perfect Easter cake and we’ll just pretend that was always what I intended.