January 28, 2013

Party til you drop

{or How I survived yet another kid birthday party}

I have a confession (and you know I love a confession session).

okay, here it goes . . .
Large groups of children scare me.

Don't get me wrong or think me evil. I love children, positively adore them — individually, or in groups of two. I'm just one of those people who should not be a teacher or acitivity leader of groups of children. If I had been Fraulein Maria, the Von Trapp children would've completely run me over like a freight train and served me up in pieces on a plate.

When my girls were little, in Preschool and early grade school, I volunteered in their classrooms quite often. I did it because I thought it was a good thing to do. I thought it might make a difference — like they'd be better people in the end because of my dedication. Or maybe my presence would lighten the teacher's load so she could do her job more perfectly. I also thought the teachers would like me and think me a nice person, and I enjoy having people like me. Ultimately I have no idea what effect it really had on any of that stuff. But I do know that the teachers probably thought I was about the worst "helper" of anyone they'd ever met. I was a nervous wreck. And I was really bad at it. I bet they actually dreaded the days I came to help. "Oh crap, Jenny's helping today. Maybe I can put her to work tacking something to a bulletin board or filing papers today."

Ask me to lead three-year-olds in a craft project involving paint and glitter? They'd end the day with paint all over their high-end clothing and glitter in their ears. Plus most of the projects won't turn out at all like the teacher was hoping they would. (true story)

Ask me to take a group of 3rd-graders into the hall and help them with a math worksheet? They will end up running amok in the hallway (while I'm softly calling "Oh dear. Okay kids, let's come back and work on this paper, okay?"), talking too loudly, not cooperating or working on their papers AT ALL. I think their math skills will actually revert a little bit. (also a true story)

Give me a birthday party of 5-year-olds and I will seize up. All those little faces staring at me, waiting for the next activity, the next snack . . . I'll barely pull it off, then crawl up to bed for a long nap once it's all over.

Give me older kids, say a gaggle of wild 12-year-olds and things are a bit better. I don't have to plan activities, but there is the stress of "enough food" "fun music" "cool activities." The last thing I want is a bunch of tween girls (who are by now mostly my size!) thinking the party is "lame."

Whew. . .

In the end Kate's party went swimmingly. Thirteen girls ate a ton of pizza, cupcakes, chips, and soda. They threw a huge dance party in the basement. They opened gifts. They wrestled and screamed and giggled. They planned sleeping arrangements, watched a movie and finally, around 2 a.m., they slept. They woke up before the sun (why? no idea) and ate scrambled eggs and 3 dozen cinnamon rolls.

And then, it was over. I was glad. Not just because it was over, but because Kate had a really great time. And that fact made it all worthwhile.

Later in the day I took a two hour nap (also a true story).


  1. Yes I've suffered from sleepover-sleep-deprivation too many times. Love your honesty xo

  2. That sounds like the perfect party.
    And I never wanted to be a teacher either.

  3. Now that sounds like a party! I'm glad you got a nap, you deserved it. :)

  4. You know what scares me? TEACHING math to third graders! They've totally changed the rules since I was in 3rd grade, and the "new" long division is harder now than it was the first time around!

    Great post, and I'm happy your Kate had such a wonderful time turning 12!

  5. I really do not think any of your children's preschool teachers dreaded you coming in. quite the contrary!

  6. Glad to hear you survived the party Jenny! lol
    Been there..I have just one daughter and when she was little I always invited the little groups over for sleep-overs and birthday parties. They kind of made up for the lack of siblings for my girl. Exhausting at first but then after the first few parties I just hid in my bedroom after I had all the food ready and sleeping arrangements made. It was so loud and there was so much commotion, if I didn't put a few walls between us my head would start pounding. They are all still very close and best friends (in their 30's now) They talk about those times with fond memories. So.. it was worth it. I love those girls. Thank you Tylenol! lol
    I'm sure that your daughter and her friends will always remember the great time they had. Just think of it as making memories for them. Really, they won't forget! Loved your post! It really brought back some good memories. :) penny x

  7. Sounds like the party went well. Not surprised you needed a nap ;)

    I used to have a house full all the time when mine were small. Birthday parties would consist of about 15-20 kids. I always used to have a whistle in case things got a bit out of hand.

    We'd play pass the parcel, musical statues and other party games. There would be a mini disco and plenty of sweets and savouries to eat, all washed down with loads of fizzy drink.

    Ahhhh, happy days :)

  8. He he he... it sounds like it went perfectly and I love the banner. The best thing about helping out when they're little is all they care about is that you are THERE. Two hour naps are my norm and they don't have to be premised by a sleepover. :)

  9. Ah ah ah. I also have a really hard time imposing some kind of discipline on children. I'm too soft, and too childish at the same time. I end up playing with them, loud and crazy.
    A few years ago I taught children at my church and it usually ended in loud chaotic bible games. Yep. You can have that kind of bible games :P And in the end I was, of course, super exhausted.

  10. Ha! Too funny ~ my youngest is turning 11 tomorrow and I completely relate to your volunteering experience down to the last flake of glitter. I was even asked to lead an after school art program for k-2 and what a disaster, the mess! I also did music for preschoolers and they used the instruments in many creative ways but not for music. The drum circle was a huge hit though.. We also had a sleepover to celebrate this past weekend which our son said was the best birthday ever. It's a bit wistful to see them grow up but at the same time I am glad to have survived those early years.

  11. Ha! Oh Jenny, you do tell a good story. I know what you mean - when faced with ten expectant six year olds I do get a little panicky too. But the thought of organising something for a twelve year old makes me even more panicky - they can be critical! But it sounds like you pulled it off.

    Gillian x

  12. Brave Woman! Yes, Jenny, even if you don't believe it, in my eyes you are a Brave Woman!!

    I did everything but student teaching because I realized that I am not cut out for group leadership :) [ I LOVED one on one tutoring as a teaching assistant, however.]

    So glad you all happily survived the celebration :)



Thank you for your comments. Hearing from you makes my day!