Party Pooper

“That’ll be $500.00, ma’am, plus food and beverage,” she said without apologizing for the small fortune she just quoted me.

$500? For a party?  I can’t possibly. . .

“I’ll get back to you,” I moped.

All I wanted to do was have a party. I wanted him to know he was beloved and that his milestones mattered.  Party planning started out simply– I called a clown and a folk singer to see if they would come and serve as our in-home entertainment.  The clown, however, had checked into rehab, and the folk singer wanted to charge me roughly what Lady Gaga would charge to show up and sing Happy Birthday (meat dress not included).

Simplicity was failing so naturally I went insane. I was becoming that mom.

He was turning 2, and I was acting like I was planning a wedding reception. For a sheik.

But a humble little bar-b-que or a “come over and eat chili” thing didn’t sound fun or special or Instagram-worthy. It wasn’t enough for all I needed this party to do. Namely, make up to my second child all the hurts, slights, wounds (imagined or real) I believed I suffered as a second child growing up.  Technically, I think it’s called projection, but you  may know it better as “being an asshat.”

Once my baggage gets in the driver’s seat, things get expensive and extremely un-fun.  My husband Jeff gently broke it to me that our son will grow up to be a bright, successful young man with above-average intelligence, but he isn’t going to remember his second birthday.  I knew Jeff was right, but I didn’t want to let go.  If I let Jeff plan the party, it will just be a glorified playdate and then Simon will be a cutter or a porn star.

As much as it hurt, I let Jeff take over the planning.

His idea? “Let’s have a sledding party!”

My response? “Awe. Some. Because there’s been zero inches of snow all year.  I’m not sure if you heard, but the globe is doing this troubling warming thing.  Also? do you know how stressful it is to plan weather-contingent events?”

Jeff ignored my protests and he sent out an informal save-the-date to Simon’s friends.  I watched the forecast continually remain above normal.  Four days before the sledding party, Chicago set a record for the warmest January day since 1607; I didn’t even wear a coat that day.  I mentally prepared for the day that Simon called to tell me he was running a sex slave operation “because he never got a special second birthday party.”

Jeff remained optimistic.  He gloated as the temperatures started to fall.  24 hours before the party, he started shoving that stupid radar screen in my face that showed a mass of “snow-ice mix” moving straight for Chicago.

Still, I didn’t believe.

The night before the party, I fell asleep with this cheery thought: How lame that everyone is coming over for a Costco bagel and some grocery store sheet cake. Simon is for sure going to become a pimp or a Republican. This sucks.

The morning of the party, I didn’t even look out the window.  I could hear Jeff and the kids rustling around getting ready for the party.  I found all three of them in ski gear (Simon in Sadie’s old pink snow suit) yapping about snow.

Because of course we got three fucking inches of snow.

Jeff’s eyes were bright and the kids were buzzing around.  We made a 120 ounces of hot chocolate, put on waterproof clothing and headed for the hill.

We sledded out hearts out in honor of Simon’s second birthday, in that magical snow that appeared out of nowhere.

My son in his pink snow suit

My son in his pink snow suit

It was memorable and perfect for my little second-born Buddha boy.  Maybe he won’t be a loan shark after all….maybe he’ll be a nice guy and a thoughtful father, just like his dad.


84 thoughts on “Party Pooper

  1. Awww so sweet. I have done the $500 party with some buyers remorse. I have done the at home party with a shit-ton of resentment because I can’t have a simple party. I have to spend that same $500 AND knock myself out being Martha Stewart on crack before there even was Pinterest.
    Jeff nailed the Law of Attraction and I love it when that works out just like the visioners claim. Makes me think I can put my problems out to the universe and know it will all work out.
    I felt a little less-than for not dragging my kids to the sled hill, but they found fun sledding down the back steps and down the slide at the park as I gasped in horror knowing someone would need stitches by the end if the day. I went upstairs and left the dangerous play to my husband’s (substandard) watch. And everyone had a lot more fun.

  2. Um, your Simon is a doll! I’m sure your WHOLE family thought the day was special. Plus, what a dude you have! Maybe you had poor luck early on in life. What with the 2nd child PTSD and all, but you have luck in spades now!

  3. Oh, he’s adorable!! That spider man hat made my heart squeeze because my son had one just like it when he was little.
    I can’t believe it snowed just in time especially given this weird weather we’ve had! Someone’s up there is looking out for him! (and thus he will never be a Republican!)

  4. love the pink snow suit. cuz that won’t come back to haunt him. I KID!!! 🙂
    isn’t the snow glorious though? i had to turn around and come back home this morning b/c of it. enjoy it while you can. also, COSTCO sheet cakes are AMAZING!! i always get the best compliments when we serve them.

  5. Judging by the snowsuit, you have a very understanding husband. Lol No, Simon will not remember this birthday but there are pictures!

    Hilarious post….loved the clown in rehab bit!

    My girl’s snowsuit is pink but instead of bunny or bear ears on the hood it features a spider…fangs and all. It’s awesome.

  6. love the sled party. although definitely risky… two year old’s.. snow..? fabulous that it worked out perfect. it’s amazing how that sometimes happens. for the record, i think 2 year parties are a complete waste of money. have happy cake with your family and possibly with a couple of friends, eat play, happy birthday. have you ever read, What Alice Forgot? i think you’d love it.

  7. CHRISTIE! My birthday is Feb. 5. I am from Philly, where it snows sometimes but not nearly like it does here in Chicago. For my 7th birthday, I told my mom I wanted a sledding party and she thought I was NUTS, and gave me a “yeah right” look. She planned games for the kids and had snacks, totally assuming we wouldn’t have snow. Then the night before my birthday, we had like 3 inches of snow! Just enough to sled, not too much that people cancelled. I will ALWAYS believe in a higher power after that. Just sayin’. 🙂

  8. I still get the hives thinking about planning birthday parties and I haven’t done it for several years. My kids now prefer to just go on a special outing with the family. Sometimes we even do an overnight, but it’s still cheaper than the parties. Sledding was an awesome idea. Way to go, marrying that one.

  9. Well, it sounds like the party was a success. . . as long as he doesn’t in fact turn out to be a pimp or a Republican. . . Your husband sounds like a (financially) smart man.

  10. “Simon is for sure going to become a pimp or a Republican” HAHAHA!!
    I loved this. I love that your husband is the quiet steady rock to your neurosis and it almost seems like his calm brought on the perfect sledding weather. And your son is simply too adorable!! Happy birthday!!

  11. Oh my word…. Christie!!! What an amazing party!!
    I love this story. I don’t know if you read that we just went through a similar party-planning thing for Xander’s 3rd birthday. We rented a ship. A SHIP!!!! While it was an incredible party I wish I had you and Jeff around to help plan. Maybe next year? Just don’t quote me $500 for your services! Haha.
    Simon is too cute, and he looks like he had a great time on his mystical magical b-day sledding extravaganza.

  12. Your thoughts throughout this post kept me laughing! We were super broke as kids and my mom threw us silly cheapo parties but they were awesome. She knew how to decorate cakes so she would do something comical. I mean I ended up a weirdo but at least I’m not a republican

  13. One of my friends, also named Erica, has an actual entertainment budget for her kids’ birthday parties. An entertainment budget about as generous as the entire budget for my eventual predatory loan office worker children’s parties. Jeff pulled off his party planning marvelously.

  14. Great story! My kids had their last birthday parties at age 10. I told them it was because they were too old, but honestly it was because I just couldn’t come up with any more brilliant party themes.

  15. I’m so glad you didn’t spend all that money on his party. I’m a second-born and I have no clue what happened on my 2nd birthday, or my 3rd, or 4th, or many others. But I know the ones where I had my friends there were always fun.

    I’m also glad that it snowed for Simon’s day, but sorry you had to deal with all the gloating 🙂

  16. It is a known fact that my children will rebel by becoming Republican jocks.

    And his party sounded perfect! Heck, I don’t even throw birthday parties for my kids until they’re in school. We just get together with family and eat cake. Woo.

  17. It’s a birthday miracle! Yay for Jeff. I don’t even want to get started on how much I’m angsting over M’s 5th birthday party. I wish we could host a sledding party. ::: drapes arm over forehead dramatically ::: Woe is me! Great post as always!

  18. Damn it. Why do things always work out for the people who tell us we overreact and do too much and make mountains out of molehills? I mean, I’d be sorry about your Republican Milli Vanili cover band kid and all, but why couldn’t Jeff fail just for once to make you look good?

    • Now you see my point, right? I am married to the most thoughtful, non-over-reaction, least neurotic person I know. He’s competent, joyful, present and creative. WTH?

      • Yeah, I’m pretty sure I don’t like him at all. He sounds so…so…lovely.
        I was lying across the keyboard last night, mentally berating myself for at least a dozen major failures and a few humongous flaws. Husband walked by and said, “What are you doing?”
        “Sinking into a major depression.”
        “Don’t do that.”
        And kept walking.
        What are we supposed to do with them?

      • Ha! That’s what Jeff does when I say, “I’m eating too much pudding right as we speak.” Him: “Stop,” keeps walking.

        Girl, we married the same (sane) man.

  19. Sledding scares me. But he sure looked adorable doing it. Ive been wanting to blog on the mad cash spent on bday parties now days. Thank you for this post!!

  20. Have you ever read “Life Among the Savages” by Shirley Jackson? It’s not a horror novel like her other books, unless you consider childraising a horror show. 🙂 She talks about how she embroidered her first child’s name on the back of his snowsuit, and then when the second one was ready for that snowsuit, she embroidered a line through the first name and embroidered the second name below it!

  21. Go, Jeff! I love that it all worked out. And how cute is Simon in that snowsuit, not giving a damn that it’s pink? Like Jeff said, he’s 2. He won’t remember any of it. But you will. So sweet.

  22. Okay, you cracked me up right away. Party planning starting simply and calling a clown and a folk singer seem like they should be mutually exclusive. Simple to me would mean I bought some plates and balloons, not I called a folk singer. Your posts are always stellar and so enjoyable to read!

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