Birthday Parties Are the Bane


My little man on a ledge.
Photo by Justin Harbor Photography.

Birthday parties are the bane of my motherhood. Not because they are filled with sugar overload opportunities for my almost-three-year-old who is a tornado of activity when not under the influence. Or because they tempt me with treats when I’m trying to reclaim from figure from the damage wrecked by baby #2, now three months old.

Birthday parties are my bane because they are a minefield of triggers for my almost-three-year-old who has the persistence of a heat seeking missile but I cannot predict what capture his determination.

On a normal play date, for example, we can chat in the car on the way to his friend’s house. “Sharing is caring,” we sing to a tune I made up. He then kicks his feet in the car seat, naming all the trains in the Thomas and Friends’ universe that he must share. “Share Rosie, share James.”

“Share all the toys,” I agree, nodding, my eyes flicking to his in the rearview mirror.
If there’s a new toy, as there was last week, the host of the play date can get smacked in the face for his quest to obtain the pursuit of his goal. I did manage to convince him to apologize to the stunned other toddler and the gasping mother which I counted as a victory.
Birthday parties? The horrors of the unknown.
Like the time we met up with friends at the park for a five year old turning six. My friend, a fellow career woman, was displaying a homemade Lego inspired cake, with due pride.

My son began screaming in earnest when he realized the cake was not for immediate consumption.  “Birthday caaaaaake!” he hollered as fat tears dribbled down his cheeks as the other children played on the state of the art playground. My husband and I took turns trying to engage him in other tasks. Nothing worked. We waited, exasperated, until the cake cutting. And left shortly thereafter, annoyed with the toddler for ruining what would have been a perfect Saturday afternoon to burn off excess energy.

Cue last week, when we were in the living room of another friend’s house, one of the frequent play date sites, and he was climbing the bookshelf to get to a Toy Story DVD.

“Woody! Wooooooddddddddeeeeeee!!!!!”

I took him, squirming and all, at one point carrying him by the ankles (yes, he was flailing upside down) to the car for his pacifier. Lucky for me, him, and the other partygoers, once inserted, he returned to his pre-toddler-Hulk personality. I quake in fear of the summer ahead when the time of No Pacy is fast approaching.

The louder he gets, the quieter I am. I get closer, whisper in his ear. It doesn’t always work. And if he happens to hit me in the face, as he did the other weekend when I was taking him up for a nap, there is surely a spanking coming.

Somehow, the contrast of my whispering while he is screaming helps my brain maintain a semblance of control. The quieter I get, the longer I’m able to be patient and wait out the tantrum.  Lucky for all of us – and any future fellow partygoers – the storms seem to be more quickly dissipating.

Did I mention he has a younger brother?



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