November is a very prolific month in our family. Upon the birth of my fourth son born in November, the doctor casually asked my husband during my delivery, “Exactly what happens at your house the first week in February?” He puffed his chest out, grinned like a Cheshire cat, and announced loud enough for everybody within earshot to hear, “my birthday.” The doctor, two attendants (all male) instantly understood.
Well, I would like to go on record right now telling you my birthday is in June. That never made my list. Let me paint you a picture: Halloween is October 31st, 3 of my 4 boys birthdays are in early November (November 2nd, 4th and 12th). Don’t forget, Thanksgiving’s just right around the corner, as well as school vacations, the impending holiday season and New Year’s Eve. It’s a very busy time of year.
I had a few friends that threw the most amazing birthday parties. They picked a theme, activity, and made goodie bags all coordinated. I should’ve hired them. I fell short of ever even doing an adequate job at this. That year was my youngest son‘s eighth birthday. Trying to redeem my less than stellar reputation, I asked him in October what kind of party he would like. He wanted to go to the movies. I thought it was a good idea, no problem.
Why is it every time I say something is no problem, it turns out to be a DISASTER! A movie, safe, easy, and they are sitting, silent in a dark room. Easy peezie…right? We had a Chevy Suburban, 8 seatbelts. Andrew drives his car, 5 more. I checked the local newspapers, and unfortunately, the only kid-friendly movie was Pinocchio, playing in a theater about 25 minutes away. No big deal.
We sent out the invitations. I decided to give them their goody bags as we were walking into the theater so they had plenty of snacks to go along with the popcorn we were going to buy them. Yes, I was feeling pretty good about myself. I was getting the hang of this birthday party thing.
The night before the birthday party our neighborhood had a Progressive dinner party. In case you’re not familiar with this; one house hosts appetizers. Then we all move to the second house: they serve the main course. After, the third house serves the desserts.
Our block did this three times a year. We had 12 houses, and 28 kids from ages kindergarten through high school. All the kids were close regardless of their age. The older kids watched as everybody played in the cul-de-sac. It was every parent’s dream come true! It had an old neighborhood feeling.
Most of the kids going to the movies the next day grew up on our street. At some point, one of the Moms asked what we were doing for the party the next day. I was very proud of myself. I told her about the movies, my goody bags idea, and how great it was going to be. One of the other Moms casually asked what movie we were seeing. I told her we were going to go see Pinocchio, but unfortunately, it was not in one of the surrounding theaters. We were going to travel for about 20 minutes to see it. And that was the end of it, We didn’t discuss it again.
The next morning the phone rang bright and early. It was one of my neighbors. I was sure she was going to tell me her child was not feeling well, so he wouldn’t be coming to the party. I was SO WRONG!! As soon as I said hello, I detected panic in her voice. I feel honored to help anyone work through a problem at their moment of need. I provide a judgment-free zone (Please remember “judgment-free”).
I asked her what was wrong. She had just looked in the newspaper and asked if we were going to see Pinocchio at a certain theater in a certain town. I said yes, and this is when it went down the toilet. She informed me that the Pinocchio playing in that theater was X -rated! Apparently, it was not his nose that was growing. I couldn’t believe it. I freaked out; now what was I going to do?
The kids start arriving in an hour and a half. My husband comes to find out what all the commotion is about. I explained the Pinocchio I was taking the kids to see was X-rated. I cannot even describe the look on his face. At moments of stress, spouses tend to bounce off each other. It never works, and now they have become the problem instead of the solution. Trust me I have a lot of experience.
My friend on the phone very calmly said I’ll call you back in five minutes. Her father was the chief of police in a surrounding town. She called him, and set up a tour at the fire station. She then called the ice cream parlor in that town and set up an ice cream birthday party. The only part that was hard for me to swallow was that she didn’t sound at all surprised I blew it. Yes, my reputation precedes me.
OK, no problem: we’re organized, no thanks to me. Can you imagine sitting in the theater with all those kids? I don’t even want to think about it. OK, all the kids start arriving at the house. We’re getting ready to load everybody in the car, make sure they’ve got their seatbelts on, and the girl whose father orchestrated the firehouse party is waving her hands and running down the street. Oh, this did not look good.
Now, what could go wrong? My husband met her halfway, and you’re not gonna believe this. Apparently, the town where we were going to visit the firehouse just had a four-alarm fire, and all the fire engines from the town were called to the fire. Now my husband said, “Not a problem. Come on, guys. Get in the car”. He told me to follow him. I decided not to ask any questions.
He planned to drive to where the fire trucks were fighting the fire. He thought that it was a great idea to be able to see the firetrucks and the firemen doing their fire thing. We stayed down the street a very safe distance away. He explained all the stuff that was going on. Between fire trucks, the lights of the police and ambulances, they were in heaven. One of the little kids even told him this is the best birthday party ever!
After, we went to the ice cream parlor, had ice cream, cake, and sang happy birthday. Disaster diverted, Mission accomplished. and the kids were none the wiser. Old family stories tend to grow bigger, and bigger as the years pass. It has become one of our family’s favorites.