Monday, May 16, 2005

You say it's your birthday

Our daughter’s birthday party went surprisingly well. My intimations of doom – or getting knocked down several notches on the register of bourgeois parental competence – were averted.

Beforehand, I had visions of David Brooks standing in the corner in a three-piece suit, jotting notes on the socio-political semiotics of our goody bag contents and choice of camcorder technology, while devising a column on how the popularity of Dora the Explorer helps the Republican Party. After all, throwing a kid’s birthday party is kind of like picking a vice presidential running mate – it’s something that can only marginally help you, but if you screw it up it could mean big trouble. Either way it goes, you make at least one person very happy.

But with the supervisory responsibilities outsourced to the staff at the gymnastics gym, everything rumbled along smoothly.

Venue is everything. Turn a bunch of 4-year-olds loose in a big room with ladders, rings, a trampoline and lots of cushioned surfaces and suddenly there is nothing for the adults to do anymore, except occasionally rescue someone from a high place. I stood dumbfounded for a while, then began to relax. My daughter, who is shy and covers her ears when people sing happy birthday, listened with grace this time – except when they were doing it all bunched together under a parachute, sweat-lodge style. There are limits.