It's after ten on this Friday night and I just drove seventy miles round trip to take Claire and her friend to a classmate's birthday party at a place called IN THE ZONE. Seventy miles? For a birthday party? Clearly I wasn't paying attention when we rsvp'd.
From seven to nine, the partiers played wiffle ball, jumped on trampolines, and went into a batting cage where the slow pitch was 30 mph. I left the girls at the party and found my way to a local Wegman's, one of our finer supermarkets, where I managed to spend $100, wandering the aisles trying to kill time. That's not good.
It may have been the lotions and potions aisle that did me in; Shikai shampoo, Kiss My Face Peaceful Patchouli moisturizer, Nature's Gate Lavender & Aloe liquid soap. Those three things alone probably cost fifty bucks. I'm blaming it on the birthday girl. Period, the end.
After my costly foray at the fancy market, I found my way back to the ZONE by sheer luck; driving on a dark, country road and eating sushi off a little tray on the passenger seat, I almost missed the turn for the ZONE. When I arrived at 8:40, the kids were woofing down some pizza. We didn't stay for the cake.
Call me a sentimental sot, but whatever happened to home birthday parties? Where the cake is made especially for you by your big sister (in the shape of a turtle), and a small group of friends sit around the kitchen table with balloons tied to the chairs?
Claire's birthday parties have always had a rousing game of pin the facial features on the pumpkin face. Michael gives rides around the yard in the wagon behind the John Deere. Everybody jumps in leaves. It's during the day, not night. And parents come to pick their children up and drive ten minutes, tops, back home.
Last year was the first year we didn't do that for Claire's birthday. She wanted to try something different so she invited two friends to Red Robin. Loud music, baskets of fries that kept on coming. I hated it. I'm not sure she liked it that much either.
There's no place like home.