My baby is eight. It feels like this started on an operating table--wasn’t it just last week? And now we are here, doing math and shooting a bb gun, and swimming a length of freestyle in twenty seconds. Little J is funny and bold, with limits. He’s aware of others, and his natural response is usually kindness. He has started to eat (and like) salads, and NOTHING affects him more negatively than being tired.
And in the spirit of celebrating Josh in all of his eight-year-old glory, we honored our every-other-year birthday party blood pact. Which is how I learned that eight-year-old boys were *probably* the inspiration for movies like “Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome”.
Now, this post could also be filed under “What the Hell I do all day” because this party has occupied my thoughts since just after we entered 2014. Josh has always stated he wanted to go to Sky Zone, which is like a gigantic warehouse full of enormous trampolines. My hesitation was two-fold-- 1.) Head injuries and other such medical catastrophes, and 2.) The cost for 1 HOUR of jump time, which is comparable to that fortune the Goonies found on the lost pirate ship.
Childhood is a gigantic blinding hazard/death trap, including, but not limited to, dust mites and organic cheeses--so my comfort level with risk-I-could-never-anticipate-in-a-million-years has been somewhat neutralized. I did, however, set out to research every possible idea for an eight-year-old boy’s birthday party--Bowling? Rock Climbing? Indoor soccer and inflatable jump party? Swimming? Little J was flexible; but the cost/happiness ratio had to be analyzed for weeks, at midnight--because everyone knows, this is when non-essential decisions are researched to death on the Internet.
The deal was: We would take a handful of Josh’s friends to Sky Zone, and then come back to our house for cake and other activities that involve beating each other to death with pool noodles. He has a pretty consistent group of pals, and this makes a lot of sense--except that there are really only 9 boys total in his class, a couple of friends that we wanted to invite outside of his class, and my deeply held belief that we ARE NOT going to be the family that excludes. You see, it’s not only about the cost of the party, it’s about your CONVICTIONS too--which include being adamantly opposed to paying an increased rate for a “birthday party package” just for access to 45 minutes in a party room. Screw that, we can pay to jump and then let the kids paint themselves with cake icing in our own home--thank you very much. Just to recap--we are all-inclusive, and do not stand for party-room rentals--but I learned that this will drastically affect the carpool equilibrium, or how many children you can legally fit into a mini-van, and how LOUD that will be, exactly.
I figured all of this out about six days before the party that I hadn’t actually invited anyone to--even though I had a seating arrangement and a schedule of events. Which is just how it goes around here, and 90% of the kids were able to attend--so the universe has a way of just working it out, I guess.
Then it was Friday, the kids had a half day/pajama day--which we all know is from the DEVIL--and then the 7 & 8 year old boys descended upon our home for our afternoon of trampoline fun. At least, I think it was fun. Fun looks very different to 7-8 year old boys, than it does to...everyone else.
Sky Zone was awesome, and it was all kinds of magical, until the start of the dodgeball game. Pretty much every boy wanted to play dodgeball--or I should say, that they all wanted to be the dodgeball champion of the universe, which is a very important distinction to make. You see, I’m used to girls. Girls who don’t really want to be hit in the face with bouncy balls. Girls who don’t really care about the recognition that comes with being hit in the face with bouncy balls. Girls who tend to passive-aggressively show their emotions and insecurities (not saying this is better...just different).
Here’s what happens with boys.
Some of the boys just don’t really give a rat’s ass about the rules, because this is the surest way to secure coronation as the dodgeball king. I don’t really get that, but I can’t even deviate from a recipe, so I just sort of come at this from a fundamentally different perspective.
The other half of the boys are CONSTANTLY tattle-yelling about how someone is cheating. Constantly. Because this is a second philosophy to winning--disqualifying everyone else based on ethics.
And it all stems from the fact that everyone wanted to win, and the rules were just a “loose set of guidelines” for that purpose. For about 10-minutes, I tried to officiate the game. I tried to call it if boys were out, and now I imagine what God feels like, because you should NEVER TRY TO REGULATE 2ND GRADE BOYS DODGEBALL. It isn’t rational, and so you should just enclose them in a small (bouncy) space and let them go at it until Jesus comes back like a champ and saves all the souls by catching all the balls, and it is finished. Except that I guarantee half of the boys will think he is cheating.
It appeared that we had exhausted them (physically and mentally), so we headed back to our house, and we had cake--which included just enough artificial sweeteners to really get the party started--and by party, I mean cage fight. There was more trampoline bouncing, and screaming, and kicking, and some tears--because WOW, boys are so vocal and so physical, and it’s terrifying. I’m certain they could overtake any fragile government, no question.
In any case, kicking on the trampoline was eventually outlawed and all children were returned to their parents with no broken bones.