Sunday, August 17, 2008

snips, snails, and puppy dog tails

For Lucas's friend birthday party, we headed to Progressive Power Tumbling.

You have to pay for a minimum of 15 people for a party, so we invited 15 people! One couldn't make it, and we had a last-minute addition, so transportation was a challenge. Fortunately, my sister-in-law and a friend/cousin-in-law offered to help me drive, and then kept me company while the kids ran around.

They ran, jumped, swung, leaped, flipped, and yelled to their hearts' content. That's when you're really glad they're not in your home.

The birthday boy had a great time, though, and that's what it's all about. Sadly, one of his friends ended up getting hurt toward the end and could not be consoled -- even with the promise of ice cream sundaes -- so his dad had to come and pick him up. He's one of my favorites out of Lucas's friends, too, so I felt doubly bad.

The present-opening is always a good time. But in this case, 2 or 3 boys came close to ruining it for everyone, between grabbing the presents before Lucas could even see what they were, playing keep-away, making impromptu costunes with the wrappings and causing general mayhem. I came close to rounding them all up and hauling them home before the ice cream sundaes!

More Spy Gear! Including one little gadget that helps budding young spies to listen behind closed doors. Gee, thanks, Aunt Michelle... I tried to scare him into judicious use of that one by warning him about overhearing discussions about Christmas gifts and the like. Hope that did the trick!

Lucas isn't a huge fan of cake, so I talked him into having deluxe sundaes. I bought waffle bowls and two kinds of ice cream, and then I cut up KitKats, Reese's, Butterfingers, and Crunch bars, and put them all in little bowls. Chocolate syrup, whipped cream, and sprinkles rounded out the finishing touches. It was the easiest birthday dessert ever, and several of the kids said that they liked it much more than cake. I may have started a new tradition for Lucas's birthday.

Unsurprisingly, those same 2 or 3 boys wreaked havoc on my kitchen. They sprayed out about half a can of whipped cream all over their plates, leaving none for the last few kids. One ended up spraying it all over Eva's shirt and face and hair, making her upset and me mad. All this while I was busy serving the nice kids and couldn't react fast enough to put a stop to it before the damage was done. Even more disturbing was the way these kids didn't seem to have any respect for adults or someone else's home or any remorse for being hellions.

This has nothing to do with Lucas's party, but my niece Kristen brought the tiniest book in the world to show me, and I was absolutely charmed by it. (It has a fabric cover and teeny tiny stapled signatures within.) Just a bright spot in my day!

I think the Guitar Hero battles could have gone on all afternoon, were it not for my impatience to get some of those boys HOME!

On the way home especially, I was very disturbed by the way some of his friends were talking -- badmouthing one of the kids not in our car, gleefully plotting ways to play practical jokes on a boy in their school that is autistic, and recounting a scene from a book they had read that was highly inappropriate for 9-year-old boys.

It saddened me to discover that, although I have had every one of those kids play in my home and thought they were all nice kids, I saw another side to them -- a pack mentality, perhaps -- that was disheartening. I know now which of Lucas's friendships I want to encourage and which ones I don't.

It is truly amazing the mess that 12 young boys can make, especially when they aren't concerned about cleaning up said mess. (Lucas had to clean it up after everyone had gone home and he didn't even complain! He knew his friends had been pretty crazy.)

I should point out that Lucas didn't participate in any of the unsavory activities, but now I know he has been exposed to them. I don't want him to think that any of that behavior is acceptable!

In summary:
  • I am grateful for the girls at the party, who did not contribute to the chaos.
  • I am grateful for Lucas's friends that are just genuinely nice kids, and grateful that I know for sure which ones they are!
  • I am grateful that Lucas had a good celebratory day, which is the only thing that could induce me to do something like this again...
  • I am grateful that birthdays only come once a year. It was so exhausting!


Alison said...

Young boys, ahh! I was especially upset about the one(s) who were plotting against the autistic boy. Kids can be so cruel in groups! I have said it many, many times- I would never go back to being thirteen (the height of the insanity for girls, I think.)

Kim Sue said...

I'm glad Lucas had a good time. I know I heavily influence Carly's friends by allowing/suggesting or not certain kids into our lives. Some are just not good influences.

Alisa said...

I read your post, then went upstairs and got my 8 1/2 year old boy out of bed and we read your thoughts together.
It hit on some of the very things we have been talking about in our family.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this-
glad that Lucas had had a good birthday despite the mayhem.

patsy said...

heavy post with all the hellion behavior- so disheartening!
having an autistic son- ouch- even though his asperger's seems so mild compared to full blown autism-still...
I am SO GLAD you had the opportunity to see through the charade so you can influence how far these friendships go.

just like alisa I'm going to have a little talk with my nine year old. Thanks for giving us the opporunity to bring up some difficult points- great lesson learning material here!

I hope you had a peaceful night!!!!

patsy said...

I mean I have an autistic son
(somehow my comment made more sense before I posted???)

Elisa said...

I am glad you posted about this so I can be sure and give party politeness lessons before my kids are allowed to attend parties.

Lucas's smile is so endearing.

Grandpa Fred said...

Sorry to hear about the hellions! Yes, young boys can be so mean. I am so glad that Lucas is such KIND boy. He has so many good examples/influences in his life... Too bad he has to associate with bad influences!!

Jill said...

I think your party invitation is super stylin! I'm glad the party was a success, even with the injured boy.

I'm disturbed by the obnoxious boys at his party, what in the world? How do they get to be like that? I would have been so bugged by their rude behavior. Did you say anything to them?

charlotte said...

Ha, I like your label for this post! And, those few boys sound absolutely horrid. It makes me mad they were plotting against the autistic boy--what kind of person does that?

I'm glad that Lucas had a good time, though! And definitely encourage the nice friendships and wish the not-so-good ones away.

mom said...

Hmmm, sounds like you had a party with a lot of "Darcys" present!!! Remember how rowdy she was? (for those of you reading, she was a crazy, rowdy friend of Michelle's when she was about 7 or 8! I always thought she must have been somewhat exciting to Michelle, as this kind of behavior was so totally foreign to her!)

I know from personal experience that our children's friends have more influence on their lives and the direction of their lives than almost anything. Friends, good and bad, have the power for great influence.Pray for good ones.

marc said...

It was fun to see your post after 12 hours (yes, 12 hours!!!) of wedding photography. No t.v. here at the Bible College, but luckily I'm close enough to pick up the library's internet connection (from its aptly named "grace" and "mercy" rooms). Have mercy, indeed!
Glad I got to see the better half of Lucas' party before leaving.

crystal said...

Sounds like a great way to discover the bad-apple-friendships. I may just have to hold a party for my kids!

Hannah said...

Ouch! I would have had a hard time not saying anything to those boys. I don't know a whole lot about 9 year olds though, so it might have back fired. Hopefully somewhere in all their misbehavior the goodness of the other boys might have rubbed off just a tad. Wishful thinking?

The party part of it sounds awesome. Tumbling, spy gear, birthday sundaes, rock band! He will remember this party for a long time.

Amie said...

Oh dear. This is the kind of thing I fear. I sure hope someone tells me if my son is like that when I am not around. You do make a good argument for having these kind of parties so we know which friendships to foster. I'm sorry it was a hard day... I hope Lucas had a fabulous time!

Becky said...

I always feel like the mean mom (you know, the one who is telling OTHER peoples' children what to do)--but this post has reminded me of why. My oldest is 7 and I am amazed at what seems acceptable to a lot of kids his age! I try so hard not to be bossy and interfering but it's a hard line for me to define...

It sounds like it was still an amazing party! Happy Belated Birthday to Lucas :)

Robyn said...

That power tumbling place looks great. I am going to write that down for December/Austin's bday. I can't believe how annoying his friends (some) were. I don't know how you held it together. I don't think I could have done as well. Sounds like it was a big success.

wende said...

it's definitely hard having boys over for a party, i think "pack" mentality is the perfect word for what happened. however, do you think their moms would want to know? i would absolutely want to know, kids are so different when they're with other people. at least you have a good teaching opportunity.

every time i drop one of my boys off for a party i say, "remember that year of the party with 'so and so' and remember how baddly behaved they were that we swore we would never invite them back? ya, remember that today and don't be like that because i will die of embarassment and you will never get invited back!" hopefully, it helps them have good behavior while they're there. good job handling it so well...

ps i second jill, your invite was crazy cute! love it!

April said...

Oh, any birthday party is absolutely exhausting...we have ground rules at our house. My husband HAS to be home to help and the kids can only have them on their "4 birthdays"...4,8,12,16. David thinks this is ridiculous and quite near child abuse, but I just can't manage to do any more than that!

And don't you just hate to see what your kids are exposed to every day, even from "good kids." It is so disheartening.

Liz said...

Wow! I'm so glad I only have one boy, at least for now. But, girls can be just as wild! :) I like the idea of having parties at an outside the home location. It really takes so much stress off of you.

I am curious, did you say anything to these boys regarding the bad mouthing, and the idea of pulling pranks on the autistic boy? I think I might have pulled over the car and had a few words with those boys.

I am glad that now you have a good idea of who Lucas should be friends with. It sounds like you are doing a good job of teaching him good manners though.

Claudissima said...

oh this what I need to look forward to? I hope Alexei is not like this, although he is very energetic and socializing, I hope he behaves when I am not around...Becca said one time that he taught him at church and that he behaved soo well. So that was a huge huge thing for me. I hope I can guide him, but your mom's comment is soo true. I had a couple of scary friends probably in my mum's view...although I think I was mature enough not to mingle the way they did...I think I was attracted more to them, because they spoke spanish, and I had just moved to the US. The party looked fun, but all the mess in the kitchen and with Eva...that would have brought out the HULK in moi! well, maybe not that far out...but a shade of green probably.

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