Saturday, January 15, 2005

Chaperone for L's 5th Birthday Party

I was thrilled to have 11 of L's close friends over to our house on Saturday morning. We cleaned the house from 8-10:00. My wife was not to be spoken to until the house was clean. I am aware of this fact and worked with the militant atmosphere.
"Yes babe, do you have anything else that needs to be done?" Was a common phrase that I would utter.
Once the house was starting to look presentable, my wife's demeanor changed completely. The anxiety of people arriving to our disheveled house gave way to joy that the party was about to begin. My angel from heaven had returned:)
My plan was to take the kids out to the back yard and go for a hike on the golf course out back. It was a chilly 30 degrees, but sunny. I decided to change plans and host some games in the back yard. I hit a good games site: I wrote down a bunch of games and kept them tucked in my pocket. I then snuck out back and set up some cones for a soccer game.
The kids started to trickle in, so we headed out back for our first game: Duck, Duck Goose. I had not played in 25 years and was dying to try it. I remember it being one of my favorite games. The kids walked around and you could see their excitement as they waited to be goosed. After about 5 minutes the kids were all done and we moved on to freeze tag. Freeze tag was also fairly short lived. The 5 and six year old girls became quickly bored at being frozen and wanted to move on to the next game.
Next I tried soccer. My friend J was over and he took care of splitting up the teams. One of the girls was a ringer and she easily maneuvered between the girls and scored at will. Sometimes the other girls got their foot on the ball. When the ball went out of bounds I tried to pass the ball around to the other kids. The game continued and then I saw my little angel sitting on the ground sulking. I went over and L whined: "I don't want to play any more." Fine, I thought. Let's keep the birthday girl happy. Red Rover was next on my list.
Red Rover was a home run. The girls kept calling for the birthday girl to be sent over. I would watch L with her eyes wide and huffing and puffing over to our side. She would either bust through the line or get stuck. Not all of L's friends knew one another, so I tried to make sure everyone got called. We played for at least 30 minutes and I think we would still be out back if I did not decide to change up the game.
After I shuffled a few of the girls into the bathroom, I brought out some balloons. The girls tried to keep them in the air for as long as they could. This was about as popular as the soccer. Girls were bumping and trampling each other and Lauren again became discouraged. J took the older girls over to do some soccer drills, while some of the younger girls and I pretended to make cookies out of some ice shards in the yard. After a little over an hour my wife called us in for pizza.
The girls were angels. They ate their pizza and cake and gave L her presents one by one. My wife got pictures of each girl with L for their thank you notes.
After cake and ice cream I took the girls out on the hike out back. We cut through my back yard. I carried the younger kids over the puddles and soon we were out on the fairway. Sections of the fairway were covered with ice and the kids skated merrily in their boots. After 20 minutes or so I rounded them up and we started to hike back. One of L's friends fell on the ice. I asked L to hold her hand until she felt better. She did so and I think she really felt the impact of her empathy on her ailing friend.
Later, during bath time I asked L about why she was so discouraged during soccer. She replied that she could not get the ball from the other girl. We talked about how much the other girl had practiced and I asked her if she would like to be on a team next summer. She said she would and we both agreed to start practicing.

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