People talk of surviving the holiday season or tax season, but that's small fucking potatoes. My family is trapped in the iron clench of a truly gruesome season, a season that befalls all parents brought together by fate with other parents who gave birth at the same time of year: Birthday Season.
Your first Birthday Season is the most benign thing ever. You invite as many kids as will fit in your living space. The little babies locomote around awkwardly, stopping every so often to lick each other's heads. The parents chill out with beers and exchange stories about how their lives have changed. Candles are blown out, trinkets bestowed. All in all, not a bad way to kill a few hours.
Then things get trickier. The kids get larger, more energetic, more destructive, until the force of a kiddie gathering can't be contained in your apartment. Parties get bigger and less personal, and conversations downshift into small talk. And when the kids move on to different preschools, the guestlists triple in size, offering parents the singular thrill of making more small talk, with complete strangers:
"Which kid is yours?"
"The kid with all the cheese dust in his hair."
"You must be very proud."
Saturday launched BS06 with a mind-altering bang, when 30 4-year-olds gathered at a local playgroup hut that might -- might -- have comprised 500 square feet. (I wouldn't put 30 4-year-olds in an airline hangar, much less a two-car garage, but there we are.) The driving rain was a nice touch, on two levels: the kids had to stay indoors, leaving no room for the strollers, which sat outside and got soaked. There we were, some 70 people doing our best impression of a steerage compartment on its way to Ellis Island. And then they broke out the pinatas.
Yep. Plural. 30 small children + two swinging broomsticks + 20 pounds of SweeTTarts = FUN!
When the first one burst and the masses grabbed for the candy, this marvelously ill-behaved little shit tried to push Robert out of the fray. Robert turned and looked at the kid, whom he dwarved by about 5 inches and 15 pounds, and fixed him with this look that said, "You're kidding, right?" The kid slinked away, and the issue was settled without a punch. It was easily the day's best moment.
Robert's fourth birthday is next month, and today he said he wants his party to be "dangerous." I can't think of anything that could top last Saturday, unless we held it on the West Side Highway.