Friday, August 14, 2015

Send in the Clowns

My darling granddaughter is one year old. My how time flies. Just a year ago, we were waiting by the phone with bated breath for that call to pack our bags and come to the hospital. Now we have a walking, talking (well 2 or 3 words), joyous little girl. 

And with the upcoming coming anniversary comes the First Birthday Party - the Grand Fete. My daughter, the consummate hostess, will no doubt do a good job balancing the family, the neighbors, and the kids without going over the top.

I remember 30 years ago when my DH and I planned her First Birthday Party. One of our good friends had a son who was born 10 days before our daughter. The mother being older, this being her third marriage, and the father already having three sons of his own,  knew this was going to be her only child. So, needless to say, her world revolved around him.

My daughter and I attended his party a week or so before we had hers. Being the end of May in the deep south, it was warm - very warm, so she had the party around the neighborhood swimming pool. We entered the gate to find wrought iron ice cream parlor tables set-up with chairs around each decorated with multiple balloons. 

There was a table where someone was serving ice cream for all the kids. There were hot dogs and chips for everyone as well lemonade. Several areas were set aside for different games that were going on simultaneously. On a far table was a cotton candy machine - and naturally someone there to whip a cone for anyone who wanted one. It was quite the circus. Needless to say everyone was having a grand time. What else could the kids want?

Why did I ask? About that time the gate opened and to everyone's delight in walked several ponies for the kids to ride. Ice cream, games, hot dogs, lemonade, cotton candy, and a pony rides - a child's wonderland. And to think just the following week - every single year - my child's birthday party was going to follow this grand gala. I could only imagine what it would escalate to as he got older. 

I made the mistake of describing the earlier party to my father who doted on my daughter. His first response was, "Well of course she can have ponies. We can have clowns and . . ." 

I begged him to stop the madness - which really hurt his feelings. Knowing him, if I didn't curtail those ideas now, God only knows what he would come up with. After all this was the man who hosted a Halloween party for me when I was 6. There he had dry ice in a cauldron in the basement of my house with someone dressed as a hag to ensure the "ambiance" was realistic. 

Then when I was in high school he set up a policeman to act as if I was being arrested on my own hayride party in town. At age 15 he threw a surprise wonderful "Sweet 15" party for me with all friends. When someone told him it was sweet "16" not "15", he just threw another surprise party the next year to get it right. The man was all about entertaining.

So I  tried to plan my daughter's event keeping the earlier party out of my mind. I had no intention of getting into a birthday party war with my friend. So we just had a backyard hamburger cookout with loads of friends and family and their children. A grand time was had by all and at age one, my daughter never knew there wasn't a pony. Although the entire time I listened (with fear) for the sounds of a circus band leading the whole show into my back yard. 

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