Sunday, January 06, 2008

I Like Lists, or How Rain Can Help You Make Friends and Influence People

Today was Jarrah's birthday party. Like last year, we held it on January 6 at the YMCA. Unlike last year, it was pouring, and had been pouring for two days. Which is a bit of a hitch when your event is called "park party with games."

When I saw the forecast, I figured we were going to have to cancel the whole thing, but the event planner at the Y told me we'd just move it indoors. That's all she told me.

Now, those of you who know me, know that I'm not much of a "roll with the changes" kind of gal. In fact, I'm more of a "make lists and follow up with e-mails" kind of gal. But all my lists and e-mails were not going to make the ground less soggy.

Until today, I had no idea if:

a) we were going to be inside
b) where inside we were going to be
c) how to let guests know where we were going to be
d) what sort of room the party would happen in, and
e) what we were going to do there

So, I was a little stressed. I'm happy to say that Jarrah did not share my worries, and was in fine spirits from the moment we walked into the lobby, and discovered that:

a) the people at the desk had no idea who we were
b) the people at the desk had no idea where to put us
c) our planner was AWOL and no one was sure when she'd arrive

I may have gotten a smidge testy, but the gal behind the desk (conveniently also named Samantha) walked us to a conference room and said we could start decorating. My heart sank when I saw the room. True, it was very large, and had lots of windows, but it was uniformly gray--gray walls, gray floor, gray tables, mysterious gray stack of--phonebooks?--piled in the corner. A few minutes later, as my valiant crew (comprised of David, Aunt Lindsey, Uncle Thomas, and a cheerfully twirling Jarrah) was moving furniture and swathing tables in red plastic covers--I heard a disturbance by the door. When I poked my head out, I saw the other Sam and a pink-eyed, sniffling blonde woman. The latter turned out to be our event planner, who said she was sick and going home even though she'd just arrived. And the balloons we'd been promised? No longer possible, due to some emergency helium shortage in the greater San Diego area.

David pinned our lone "Happy Birthday" banner on a far gray wall and it hung there, bereft.

And then an amazing thing happened, Readers. Right before my cynical, crabby eyes, a completely different and wonderful scenario unfurled.

People started arriving, with big smiles and high spirits. Sam brought in a blow-up donkey, and Uncle Thomas led the first few kids in a rousing game of "Pin the Tale" on same. Friends helped put out the food, hang a sign on the door, turn on the music, slice up the bagels. Coffee was poured and the schmoozing started. It was convivial, and--dare I say it?--the kids were having fun. They cared not a whit that we were indoors. They chased each other around and screamed, and since there was nowhere for them to go, the adults relaxed and chatted, not needing to chase them.

Sam came back with an assistant (who shall ever remain nameless, since I didn't meet her) and helped me corral the post-nosh crowd down the hall to the gymnastics arena.

Now, I wasn't really clear on what might happen in here. I heard "obstacle course" and "trampoline" and "The Pit." The first two sounded fun; the third a bit dubious. But The Pit is where the magic began. After the kids lined up and leaped their way across some bars and squishy mats, we all arrived at a curious hole in the floor that was filled with...giant pieces of Spearmint Bubblicious? I really have no idea. But I do know that within seconds there were only heads and digits and screams where once whole children had been.

That looked good to me, Readers. After politely inquiring, I dove in myself. I was warned to remove to my socks, but I figured, pish-posh. I am certainly old enough to keep my socks on in a pit of Bubblicious. Readers, as it happens I was not old enough to keep my PANTS on. And I nearly needed to be removed by a crane, so tenaciously did those foamy chunks grip my nether regions. I loved every minute of it. Suddenly, the pit was teeming with yodeling parents, and soon after, grown men and women were screaming at the top of their lungs while they boinged their way up and down a trampoline as long as a runway. And did anyone hover or chide, reminding us to mind our p's and q's amidst the equipment? They did not. Sam and Co. sat back and watched us with big smiles. I felt like it was MY birthday party, and I don't think I was the only one.

We jumped and rolled and screamed for nearly an hour, and then it was not hard to persuade the kids to return to the gray room, since cupcakes beckoned. There was an impromptu floor picnic, with Capri Suns and tiny bags of snacks, and then Jarrah blew out her big "3" candle "all myself." This was followed by a frosting fest, which may have fueled a new round of running and screaming, and a dig through the goodie bags. As if the whole thing had been choreographed, the kids discovered the coloring area on their own, and we wound the whole thing down with everyone gathered around making some dinosaurs purple.

Jarrah was the very last person in the room. We had cleaned and packed up, and were on our way to the car, when I turned around to see her lying on the floor, head propped in her hand, coloring away.

Now that's what I call a success.


Type (little) a aka Michele said...

Wait a second. You were able to even CONTEMPLATE an OUTDOOR event in JANUARY????????

Hate You.

(not really. how could I?)

Also, don't you love how our children show us what neurotics we are by being totally adaptable?

Sam said...

Type, I know, I know, after 9 years in Massachusetts, I understand this is wrong and unnatural. ;)

And yes, I did think how fascinating it was that Jarrah never once, for a second, seemed concerned that things were not turning out like last year.

Jenn said...

Sometimes the best things are those we can't control and plan! I am learning from Hadarya to just be in the moment more and not stress over the planning things. It is a much happier place to be. Congrats on a successful unplanned birthday party! Everyone looks like they had a blast...especially the adults and birthday girl.

Smitten Knitten said...

Great pictures from a great party! Although I did not dare venture into "the pit" the trampoline runway was awesome :)

Anonymous said...

It will be hard, maybe impossible to top this party!

We all had a blast!

My favorite part was getting to jump on the big trampoline!

I hope for rain next year!



Jennifer said...

I guess this is a lesson for all of us...go with the flow! I know that is hard for me most of the time. I feel the need to make sure things are planned out perfectly and then when something doesn't go as planned I stress out. It sounds like this was the perfect birthday party. Happy belated birthday, Jarrah!


Anonymous said...

Sounds fantastic! And those cupcakes look delicious -- wish I could have been there! :) Lix

Anonymous said...

I'm really happy that the party was a huge success despite some last minute scrambling. I sure wish we could have been there. I've been in the pit myself and it took me nearly a half an hour to get out of it. I covered it cleverly under the guise of "playing" in the pit, but the truth is I was only able to move inches at a time! Happy, happy birthday to Jarrah and congratulations to you and David on being the parents of a full-fledged three year-old! Miss you guys and we're looking foward to seeing you later this month. I will be bringing Jarrah's present with me because I've been unable to get it together to mail it. I'm afraid I have no good excuse but hopefully she won't mind having a belated giftie! See you soon!!



Anonymous said...

People, it was a blast!

Thank you for having us, Sam!

Anonymous said...

Proving once again, it's not the place, it's the people that make a party!!!


Best, Gail

Anonymous said...

You sure do throw a great party! Even when nothing goes as planned! Wow. I am inspired.

The "all myself" thing made me a little teary.

Congratulations to all of you on Jarrah being the big 3.

Miss J

p.s. Why doesn't my Y have a Pit???????????? That thing looked absolutely amazing! It was like My Gym for adults!