So, as many of you know, I am one of the very fortunate people lucky enough to call themselves “a parent“.
Many a-blessings one sees rearing a child.
Mesmerizing moments of utter bliss; never ending movie fragments of non-sensical laughter, jumping and/or passing gas. Mostly all at the same time… everywhere even medical waiting rooms and church.
- Your daughter’s smile after she’s done figuring something out.
- Lazy afternoons where crayons rule.
- Your child in a small school play.
- Potty training.
- Their first written word.
All moments you never really thought of or bargained for.
And laughter. Lots of it. Lots of laughter and silliness.
And it’s all good, you know? Its funny how one’s perception of happiness can shift from clubbing and drinking to spending the day on the floor with your child, within the same lifetime, that is.
However, let me remind you…The universe isn’t just handing out these experiences for free. There is a price, you know?
Like birthday parties…
Kid birthday parties…
Guttural-disturbingly colorful-vitriolic-stridently ear-piercing-candy-packed-cruel little children birthday parties…
It’s not the kids. It’s not.
It’s really not.
But don’t worry; it’s not all of it.
I mostly despise the pre-ordained, ritualistic dance us moms and dads have to play while the children do their thing. The same menial, stilted, wearisome exchange, brimming with strained flattery and viciously uninteresting grocery practices.
Try doing this through a mouthful of sweet and severely fattening cake frosting with a chaser of watered-down Diet Pepsi.
But who am I to point out or criticize a centuries-old tradition of parental networking where the most precious of commodities are shared – like when should you wean your child off a pacifier or the precise interpretation of poo color?
Don’t misunderstand. I am not complaining. I simply want to share…
I’m just saying Birthday Duty can be pretty grueling. Like trying to work your way out of not playing with one of the kids at the birthday party, without looking like some sort of jerk.
And I really, really suck at it.
It’s one of those parent skills that never took. Like grazing aimlessly along supermarket aisles, while sipping Quick Strawberry Milk and nodding along to whatever your child might be babbling about at the moment. You know… those.
Can you believe I’ve actually looked up articles online on conversation starters and mingling for birthday parties?
Believe it or not, I am incredibly social. Working in Sales requires the capacity to initiate, maintain, and grow networking constituencies. And I am actually pretty good at my job.
Then again, socializing might not come as natural to me as it does to my brofriend Travis. The guy turns himself into a celebrity anywhere within 20 minutes, with that special kind of appeasing and warm eloquence that makes you want to whore out your friendship almost instantly
I don’t have that, but I have been called “warm & fuzzy” in actual job interviews.
My point is birthday mingling shouldn’t be this difficult for me…
Or the rest of us (I hope).
I suspect it might have a little to do with the afterward expectations. That after we make eye contact and chat a little, I’m supposed to like your kid, be agreeable and be blindly inviting of an open discussion on diapers, light bulbs, baby food and politically-correct child spanking.
And all this, after the stale Cheetos you’ve been snacking on, reveal a poignant and astonishing twist. Your mouth hasn’t been their first.
This is not easy to manage.
Like my wife says, I don’t really like any other child other than my own.
I know it’s a little cruel.
I know its not very ‘parenty‘.
At least it’s honest.
Its normally around this time, I’ll make a run for “The Guys Corner“, that little spot at every party where wives, mates, children, pets, and clowns are outcast to permit men grunt, chug down beer, and bond without having to kill a Zebra.
This is where it gets extra sad for me as another ‘one of the fellers‘…