I am not a creative, imaginative person, so trying to plan a party for a small crowd of people under 21 really stretches the limits of my capabilities.
My son, Silas, turns 6 this week. I'm not a terrible parent, but I am terrible at planning birthday parties for him. I leave inviting other kids until the last minute, usually just having to call other parents and beg them to come a couple days before the event, and I can also never think of anything fun to do. I am not a creative, imaginative person, so trying to plan a party for a small crowd of people under 21 really stretches the limits of my capabilities. My usual solution is just having the pint-sized guests run around my parents' house, give them cake to eat and then corral them back into their parents' waiting cars. Having parties at my parents' house has a lot of advantages; they live near a park, they've got a nice open floor plan, several bathrooms, and it's much cleaner than my house.
Silas has been to some great birthday parties. He's been to ScienceWorks, the Family Fun Center, and for hay rides in the country. Other parents obviously have a very different set of parenting skills than I do just to be able to have these thoughts. My one shining moment was last year when I managed to make an R2D2 cake for my little Star Wars fan who was turning 5. Of course this year he wants a "Lego Power Miner Cake." Believe me when I say that my creativity and cake making skills have hit the wall.
Luckily for me I have a very forgiving son. He knows all my faults and is willing to put up with them. I remember once in a psychology class I learned about "goodness of fit" between a mother and child. At the time I thought this was more crazy psycho-babble, how could a mother and child not "fit?" Now I finally understand. Silas is quiet and organized and would rather stay home with his Legos than go out for an ice cream. He wakes me up when I fall asleep on the couch to tell me it's time for him to go to bed, hates to take baths, and wouldn't go near polenta with a 10-foot pole. I am messy and disorganized. I clutter up the house and my level of organization extends to "clean clothes go on the bed, dirty clothes on the floor." I take a bath every day, and am trying my best to survive on a diet consisting only of polenta and ice cream, at least until the scurvy sets in.
Silas and I are completely different people. He doesn't look like me, he doesn't act like me, and we definitely have different sleeping patterns. Who is this little "morning person" I gave birth to? When I gave birth to Silas I remember looking down at his little dark body with his dark fuzzy hair and wondering how they managed to accidently put the wrong baby in my pale, freckled uterus (I haven't seen it, but I'm just going to guess that I'm pale and freckled all over). Loving Silas is not to love an extension of myself, it's not to love him because I see myself in him, it's loving the person he is and nothing more. Opposites attract, and I'm glad I have this organized, meticulous boy to come home to.
Hopefully this is that last year that I have to plan a birthday party. If Silas is so different than me then I can only hope that party planning is on his skill set list, rather than mine. Next year he can decide what to do, send out invitations, and make himself a Power Miner Lego cake. Meanwhile we can sit on the couch together and watch America's Funniest Home Videos. Apparently he is just like me in one sense; we like to watch people fall down on TV. Of all the genes to pass on to my offspring, I managed to pass along a terrible sense of humor.
Happy birthday my big 6-year-old! I love you, and you make me try harder to be a better mom every day.
Zoe Abel is trying to plan a birthday party. She is also terrible at sewing, cooking, and checking the mail. She's lucky to have Silas around to take care of her. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org