It was just the birthday party I have always wanted to give my kids.
For the past few years, we have been in cramped quarters and had to hold the parties someplace other than our home. But this year, we are in a house. It is a small house, but there is a deck and a yard and Southern California sunshine. And, so, instead of renting halls and hiring entertainers, I went to the store that begins with T and bought a blow-up pool. We spread toys outside. We picked lemons off our tree in the back and J made lemonade. We ordered a few platters from the grocery store and I made macaroni and cheese. Since the birthday boy does not much like cake, we ordered a car cake from Baskin Robbins (he likes ice cream).
And, we wrote “no gifts” on the evite, because frankly, the kids have enough crap. One or two people brought gifts anyway, but we tried to do our bit for the planet (and our closet space).
The birthday boy spent the entire party in the blow-up pool, coming out only to eat yet more watermelon. He poured water over his head and the head of anyone else who came along, as long as they were willing. Whenever we went near the pool, he shied away. “No get out!” he insisted, fearful that adults might want to spoil his amphibian ambitions.
We are pretty sure he had no idea it was all for him, but it still had all the things he loves best: the pool, other children, and fruit.
The kids, most of whom did not know each other, played effortlessly. His older brother was not jealous but instead enjoyed the festivities. And still, Benjamin was in the pool, now and then paging his little friend, A, to the water. The adults were all pleasant and interesting.
When everyone had gone and we caught our little fish, we toweled him off and put him down for his afternoon nap. He fell into a deep sleep from which we finally roused him at 4:30. As he peed on the potty, he turned his sleep-clogged face to me. “Put on swim diaper. Go in pool. Friends there.”