Come on now…what are you really scared of?

I’m in the last grueling stages of preparing for a challenge that, to date, continues to cause me to wake up in cold sweats in the middle of the night.

No, not finishing a manuscript. Been there, done that.

No, not major surgery (thankfully, not THAT scary…but up there…).

No, paranormal lovers, not facing down a pack of werewolves or scary vampires. Although I’m definitely using Buffy as the model of a fierce heroine that I can only hope to live up to.

Nope, I’m facing something mothers out there face every day.

The pre-school birthday party.

Yes, fifteen wild little critters (think pixies, trolls, or something equally small and mischievous) will soon be taking over my house.

And I am so not ready for it.

Last year was easy – we just took cupcakes in to my kid’s pre-school, and all was copacetic. Then, as the school year wore on, suddenly we started to be invited to increasingly elaborate kiddie parties.

First it was Chuck E. Cheese, where my screaming child got trapped in an overhead maze and had to be talked down by a helpful first-grader (adults weren’t allowed in the maze, so thank God for that anonymous kid).

Then came the party at Pump It Up Jr., an all-enclosed “children’s party place” – basically, a huge gym-type building filled with inflatable bouncy houses that kids jump crazily on for an hour or so before being shuttled into a room with low classroom-style tables to chow down on pizza and cake.

Finally, some parent rented out the local children’s zoo. And that’s when my husband and I both cracked.

A reminder: we’re talking about parties for four-year-olds. Not bar/bat mitzvahs, not quinceaneras, not graduation parties.

Friggin’ four-year-olds.

So, right now we’re getting a lot of “Mommy, can everyone come to my Pirate/Dinosaur/Ironman/Pumpkin/Nemo/UmiZoomi birthday party?”

And we’re having to balance increasingly…LARGE expectations with the fact that neither my husband nor I came from families that threw large parties for anyone under age sixteen.


Problem is, we want to make the kid (within reason) happy. So throwing a shindig makes sense. And having some kids/parents over is, well, just fine.
Spending $500 to rent out a party emporium or $300 for a clown to come over to our house and traumatize the kids permanently, not so fine.

So, we’ve come to a (stressed, worried) happy medium. We’re now planning a party for the kid, with all the pre-school friends – in our house. We’ll have some dorky games, some pizza, some cake, and will do our level best to hide anything breakable before the pack of fire-breathing munchkins appear at our door.

Fellow Moms – if you have ANY advice on indoor games or activities that pre-schoolers can manage without destroying a house, please let me know.

You may save a writer/mom’s sanity.

But seriously…as you can probably tell, the real issue is that I want to make my child happy, and that I’m seriously distressed about the expectations that have arisen due to all the awe-inspiring events planned by other parents for their kids.

I’m scared that this could be the first time my kid gets made fun of…or equally awful, the first time I’m a real disappointment in their eyes.

Have you had a time (as a parent/friend/child) that you’ve really worried about disappointing someone? How did you overcome it?

I’d love to read your comments. And seriously, any advice on awesome indoor kid activities for ages 3-6 would really save me…

2 Responses to “Come on now…what are you really scared of?”
  1. I can so identify. When my twins were in Kindergarten, we threw the most amazing camping themed party. We roasted smores. We borrowed tents and hooked them together to make a huge maze in the backyard. (Two acres and fifteen tents) We had a “bug” hunt featuring over a thousand rubber/plastic creatures hid all over our house. We had a scavenger hunt for treats instead of the traditional treat bags. We bought a camp song tape and had a dance party with glow sticks in a darkened family room and after the sun went down they played “firefly” tag with the glow sticks in the front yard. I planned that party for months. Kids still come up to me and talk about it to this day–five years later.


    My twins enjoyed a plain old swim party at the Y just as much a year later. LOL Sometimes I think we pressure ourselves much more than we need to. It’s all about getting together with their friends even if the parents think it’s about so much more.

    Consider the seek and find game for your party no matter the theme. Kids love to hunt things. Basically, they love to run around w/o a lot of structure since every second of their lives is planned these days. Think Easter egg hunt difficulty. Doesn’t matter if stuff is in plain sight. They just love to snatch it up. You can even do it with treats so they fill they’re own treat bags. Proofing a room and turning it into a dance party is also inexpensive and great fun. Like a mini-Rave with whistles and glow sticks?

    For girls, you can do a dress up photo shoot. Kids that age love to dress up and you could print the photos yourself. It would be a fun keepsake. You could always do some harmless lip gloss and glitter type make up so it wouldn’t be too much. Maybe a princess/prince for a day type theme?

    Okay, I obviously love this kind of thing too much. Tell me to shut up now! LOL

  2. chandraryan says:

    What a great idea, Barbara!

    We had an at home birthday party for my oldest when he was in pre-school so I’ve been trying to remember what we did but am having a hard time because it was several years ago. I think we opened an Oriental Trading Company catalog and let him pick out a couple of crafts for the kids to do. I remember there being glitter glue involved 🙂 It wasn’t bad though. We just covered the work surfaces with those throw away table cloths and then threw them away when the kids left. And the kids had something they made to take home with them.

    Personally, I thing l the big parties are more for the adults than the kids. When I was a little kid I didn’t care where the party was, I only wanted cake, ice cream, and time to play with my friends.

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