Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Great Obstacle Course Birthday Party

Dear Connor,

For the past five years, Daddy and I have been alternately creating and running obstacle courses. We started out creating them. We went from our simple life of hanging out in Adams Morgan, entertaining at home, and seeing tons of incredible live music. A particular Wolf Trap experience with Bruce Hornsby playing piano might possibly have restored my belief that God does, in fact, exist. And then, five years ago, we started jumping over hurdles that we never even imagined in our pre-kid days. It started with figuring out how to feed you, how to get some sleep, and then we mostly sat back and watched you knock down one milestone after another. We’ve had a totally lucky run, and Daddy and I both know it. I often think I’m the luckiest mom on the planet, although it didn’t feel that way when your sister was spitting everywhere and you were trying to see how long you could go without sleeping or eating.

But these days? Connor, you are a mostly reasonable person who I enjoy being around. And you always wear your hat without complaint, and I appreciate that. It’s fun to hear you propose solutions to problems (many of which make at least some sense), to watch you swim around the pool playing games, and to watch your many puppet shows (although this last activity would be a lot more fun if you focused on PLOT as much as you focused on SETUP).

I don’t particularly enjoy all the rules you have for EVERY.SINGLE.SITUATION. I met a guy in the lap lane the other night while I swam during safety break. He was very intent on (1) telling me how I had violated lap-lane etiquette by joining him and another swimmer without confirming “circles” or “sides”, (2) describing in great detail what exactly lap-lane etiquette is, ad naseum, and then finally (3) nearly refusing to let me leave his presence because he had a lot more to say about the rules. I (1) apologized, (2) listened for what seemed like way more time than the conversation was worth, (3) asked him what exactly he wanted me to do now, and then (4) joined the lane next to me instead, much to his chagrin - because it wasn’t supposed to be as easy as just asking the lady next to me who was gawking at the ridiculous conversation I was in if I could join her and the other dude in her lane. I was supposed to know some secret handshake and write “I understand AFC lap lane etiquette” on the board 200 times first. Before I just switched lanes, what I wanted to do was (1) tell him to suck it, (2) let him know that you can’t split a lap lane in half with three people, you HAVE to keep to the right in a “circles” formation, and (3) offer that if he wanted rule-making time to equal swim-time, he should go talk to you, since you seem to really enjoy the making rules portion of life. I can almost imagine the debates the two of you could have. Unfortunately for him, you’re smarter than he is. But seriously, I hope you don’t get to be his age and still think that discussing and making rules is the best use of your time. As I often tell you, sometimes you just have to live life!

About ten months ago, I read a post about an obstacle course birthday party that a friend was having for her son (though at the time, I hadn’t yet met her). I knew then that this was the perfect party for you because you love to run races, and you love having rules to follow (see above). I tucked the idea away in my brain so far, that when it came time to plan your birthday party this year, I came up with the idea of having an obstacle course birthday party, knew it would be perfect, and patted myself on the back when Ed bought into it completely. Only later, when Ed and I were thinking about the design, did I go back and read the post referenced above, and realize that I had actually left a comment for Stimey telling her I was going to steal her idea, unless she became a party planner in time for Connor’s birthday. She didn’t, I did. And even though it turns out to not be an original idea at all, it is still a good one. Behold, the power of the internet!

A week before the party, your dad and I built the obstacle course, with your help. It was immediately apparent that you loved it, and the boys next door loved it as well, which gave me a good feeling about the whole thing.

I also baked a vanilla cake with cream cheese vanilla filling (which was fabulous), and then frosted the cake to look like our backyard, with the obstacle course set up. Several adults at the party recognized what I’d done. And I can thank the ladies from Georgetown Cupcake for teaching me that trick to make grass out of icing. Ed took a very nice, very fuzzy photo of the decorating phase to commemorate our work together, which almost ended in a big pile of unrecognizable goo when you saw we had left-over frosting. You immediately said “let’s put big globs of frosting all over the cake”. Absolutely not. Next idea, please.

You clearly love being five. Your party with friends was held a few days before your actual birthday, and you let everyone know you were still four. But when you came back in town after a vacation in Cape May where we celebrated on your actual birthday, the first thing you said to a friend of yours when you saw her was “I’m FIVE now!”. She was freaked out enough that she immediately reported the news to her mom, who took it in stride.

As a five year old, you have decided that you would like a position on “the committee”. At present, the committee is composed of two people, your dad and me. Whenever a decision needs to be discussed, it gets referred to committee, and an answer is given after the committee has time to meet. I regret to inform you, but there are currently no available positions on the committee, so you’ll have to apply again at a later date. You asked if you could join the committee when you were eleven and again, I let you know that you would be told if any committee positions became available, at which time it would be appropriate for you to put in an application.

You passed your eye test at the doctor’s this year. I believe this means you have better eyes than me, because I don’t think I would’ve passed an eye test at age 5. I know I didn’t pass it at age 7, when I got my first pair of glasses. Up until that point, I had no idea that anyone could see what the teacher was writing on the board and that it was possible to see individuals blade of grass, instead of one big fuzzy field. Last year, you failed your eye screening, but I didn’t believe it, so I took about 10 months to get you an appointment with an eye doctor, and then you ended up being totally fine. But your eyes could go South at any moment, warned the doc.

But...back to the obstacle course.

This was, by far, the best party your dad and I have ever planned. We tested the course the week before the event,  and the your dad remembered to mow the lawn a couple of days before the event. I got to show off my mad obstacle course running skills as I demonstrated the course to onlookers.

The course started with a balance beam, then a bar to jump over, and then a slide down the ol' slip-n-slide.

Then, folks had to climb a little plastic play structure that's about 4 feet tall, and reach over and bang a coffee can. That coffee can was a stroke of brilliance from you dad.

There was more over and under, through a pool, and tossing a ball. Everyone completed at least most of the course, with several people completing it several times.

After that, we tossed water balloons and tried to fill a bucket of water with a teeny, tiny cup.

If I were on the verge of sending you to a new school, I would be totally flipping my lid. But, because you'll be staying at your current school one more year, I'm going to save all the worrying for a year from now.

We're having too much fun, Connor. More than we deserve, I suspect.


1 comment:

  1. That is a totally awesome birthday party idea. I'm going to steal it as soon as possible. Happy birthday, Connor!