I think it's funny that I obsessed over planning a birthday party for a bunch of six-year-olds. Six-year-olds are awesome to throw a party for! It's the nine-year-olds that are hard.
We invited eight kids over for a three-hour party. About a half-hour before they were supposed to arrive, Matt said, "Um, where are we going to put eight kids?" And I said, "Uh, what are they going to DO for three hours?"
I'd planned a few games, and then we would send them outside to play in the snow, and then do cake/ice cream/presents. If there was extra time, we'd set 'em up with a little Samurai Jack and call it good. But when I mentioned the games, Matt said, "Are they too old for games?"
John's old enough for us to be worrying about his social standing and how we affect it. Because we're like that.
Daunted, I forged ahead with the plan and my Betty Crocker's party planning book. The kids started arriving and sort of circulating around the house. John's room was off-limits, because it was a pit, so the kids couldn't prowl through his belongings and judge him. Instead, they looked at our living room and judged us.
"Were those drawings on the wall when you moved in?" asked one kid, pointing at the graffiti John and Maia have put on the drywall by the stairs.
"Nope, John and Maia did those," Matt said.
"Math!" said another kid, pointing at some calculations scribbled on another part of the wall. "There's math on the wall." He was clearly charmed by the idea.
"Are we just going to walk around in circles?" asked a loud-mouthed kid.
"You are," I said. "The rest of us are going to play games."
When all had arrived, Matt herded them outside for some snowball fighting, sledding and general romping, while I sat quietly inside, visualizing games going smoothly. I should probably carefully examine why so much of my self-esteem is wrapped up in nine-year-old boys approving of my party choices, but that could get ugly.
The group tromped back in after almost an hour, full of sniffles and fresh air and hearty good-fellowship. John got right in my face and cried, delighted, "Mom, MOM! Someone threw the ball at me and I got hit in the NUT!"
Not quite sure when that word became generally accepted in social discourse at our house, I ignored it and maneuvered everyone into our living room. And when I told them we were going to play some games, they were instantly rapt.
I worry that with all the organized sports, video games and other distractions going on, kids are going to forget how to play games like this. But it was so much fun to have all those kids get instantly excited about what we are doing -- and if they weren't excited, they at least had the good graces to go along with it and not spoil it for anyone. We played Truth or Consequences, Mystery Package and Forbidden Candy. Halfway through the loudmouth kid said, "This is an awesome party!"
We went seamlessly to cake and presents (John got, among other things, 20Q, which I love so much I can hardly stand it), and then a little Samurai Jack, then back outside to wait for parents. I think it was a success.
One kid spent the night, and we went sledding this morning before we took him home. In the car on the way there, they had this discussion:
Friend: John! JOHN! Guess what! Um, my grandpa? Long ago? Uh, he was supposed to be on the Titanic. But he wasn't. Because he was LATE.
John: WOW. He must have been SO LUCKY.
John: Did you know that there was a movie Titanic?
John: Yeah. And it's really, really gross.
John: It's the grossest grown-up movie ever.
John: Yeah, the Guinness Book of Records says it's the grossest grown-up movie ever made.
Me: The grossest?
Me: No, I think it means it's the highest-grossing movie ever made. Which means it made a lot of money.
John: OHHHHHH. That makes sense. I wondered why "Snow White" was the grossest kids' movie ever made.
Me: I s'pose.
John: Because there's only ONE kiss in it. How could that be the grossest?