Monday, August 15, 2011

The Misadventures of a Tween's Birthday Party

When thrifty goes wrong
A month ago, when we planned my oldest son's 12th birthday party and it was in the upper 80s or lower 90s everyday with nary a drop of rain to be seen for days or weeks at a time, having it in the open air at a county park that featured both a splash pad and a lifeguard manned lake for swimming seemed like a brilliant idea.  It was a free location and the kids would have lots of fun things to do, not to mention it wouldn't require thoroughly cleaning the house before and after the party.  This past week, when they started forecasting high temperatures in the lower to mid-70s for yesterday, with the increasing chance of rain as the week went on, it seemed less brilliant.

I didn't really have the option to change location, since we'd invited my son's entire baseball team that had finished up the season the month before (which is why we planned it when we did) and I didn't have contact information to let them know of the change of plans and, in this day and age of no one RSVPing, it was impossible to tell who, if anyone would be coming.  Instead, I just monitored the hourly forecast nearly obsessively for the days leading up to the party and hoped for the best.  As we were loading up the minivan, getting ready to go, it was sprinkling, but faith and the weather map on my husband's cell phone seemed to indicate we'd be okay. 

The free-to-me birthday cake my mom made for the party
When we got there, the splash pad was off and there was no lifeguard down at the lake.  On the plus side, the park was nearly deserted (other than the pavilions that would have protected us from the rain.  Those had been reserved by family reunions and prayer groups and were in full use.) so we were able to grab as many tables as we liked right between the splash pad and the building that housed the restrooms, changing rooms, and a snack bar (and a storm shelter, but I was pretending that there was no chance we'd be needing that) ideal location.  Shortly after we got there, the boys asked the staff mulling around if they could go in the lake (despite it being in the upper 60s.  Silly boys!) and the obliged by sending the necessary staff to open it up.  Later, when they wanted to play in the splash pad, they turned it on for them.  Meanwhile, the adults who weren't supervising the children at the lake (my husband and dad), or happily munching on the black bean and corn salsa (me), started to play the board games we brought as an alternative activity in case of rain in an attempt to thwart the weather maxim that whatever weather you are not prepared for, that's what you'll get.  I don't know if that is a real saying, but it definitely should be.

As the rousing game of Scrabble was wrapping up and the boys started indicating a desire for present time, dark clouds started rolling in.  We weren't going to make it after all.  I started letting people know that all non-essential items probably should be moved to the car and anything we still needed should be moved under the cover of the snack bar and my husband checked his phone's weather map and pronounced we had about 10 minutes before we got rained on. 

We spread blankets on the floor of the covered area and set up a picnic and present area.  The staff was very accommodating, going around our improvised party area to do their tasks (we made sure we wouldn't be too much in the way when we set stuff up) and everyone happily ate their cake and ice cream.  My son was happy with his gifts and he and his friend had a blast running around in the rain after present time.

I guess even though it wasn't the ideal party, it was fun and memorable.  After all, when the birthday boy has this expression on his face for most of the party, it was a good one:

My son's friend and my son, sporting his new official Indiana Jones hat

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