12 kids. Two 8 year olds, and the rest ranging between 5 and 6. Throw a 3 year old into the mix. Add astonishing amounts of hyperactivity, 5 pin glow-bowling, blaring music, and general uncoordination, and you've got Keegan's 6th birthday party.
Just getting them organized was a nightmare. Shoes, getting them to decide if they want peach juice, apple juice, Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Orange Crush or 7-Up. And then giving them more choices in the arena of chips: plain, salt and vinegar, nacho, ketchup, BBQ, cheesies or sour cream and onion.
Then trying to shift them all into three lanes for bowling. This was more difficult than you might think, especially because I wasn't able to put names to half of the faces.
And when you see them actually bowl...yipes! Three kids with crushed fingers because they refused to listen to the 500000000000 times I told them not to put their hands near the ball return. One kid with a bruised foot from when another kid dropped his ball. Of course, this wouldn't have happened either if they had listened when I told them 500000000000000 times to sit down on the bench when it wasn't their turn to bowl. And my personal favourite: the kid who got a rapidly speeding ball to the crotch when he thought it was a good idea (despite my 5000000000000000000000000 warnings NOT to) to straddle the ball return. It took one hour to get through 6 frames of bowling.
Food! Hotdogs. 80% of the kids only ate the wiener. Another 10% took one bite and said they were full. The other 10% said that there was no way they were eating that, or drinking that. (Hmmm....got some sensory issues going on. Okay, I get it).
Then there was the creepy Yoda Cake. (Forgive me as I sidebar here to tell the story of the cake. Keegan had asked for a Yoda cake for his party. I had visions of gateau grandeur. Instead, I ended up with a Yoda head on a platter, whose facial attachments and ears were too heavy for the cake and despite having a box of toothpicks inserted throughout the cake, continued to fall off. (That's a lawsuit waiting to happen, actually...). I asked Keegan what he thought, and he said it was really creepy and it would scare all of his friends. "But thanks for trying Mommy."
So, cake part two. I cut the head in half so I had two half-spheres of cake. Made one into the head, the other into chest and shoulders and made up a jacket to lay on top. Trimmed down the protruding eyes and nose, and reassembled. Keegan's reaction was non-committal. At this point, I thought, screw it! Why am I stressing out for a bunch of kindergardeners?)
Ok, so I bring out the cake, the children were delighted (to my satisfaction, they all knew it was supposed to be Yoda) and Keegan blows out the candle. I then tell them I am going to cut the cake. Then, and I kid you not, they en masse started chanting, "KILL YODA! KILL YODA! KILL YODA!" Little barbarians, every single one of them.
After it was all over, and we were taking the loot to the car, I had that bizzare ringing deafness, akin to post-concert experiences.
Don't get me wrong, over all the party went well, the kids had a blast, and other than the myriad of bowling ball related injuries, there were no tears or tantrums. But I for one, would recommend that bowling parties be saved for those 7 and up. Maybe 8. Make it an even 10. And only invite 2 friends.
PS. I really want to hunt down and maim the parent who invented loot bags. I took a page out of my friend Christy's book, and decided to give the kids Chapter's gift cards instead of crappy dollar store toys that would break before they even got home. As I was handing these out, tucked into thank you cards, I kept hearing, "This is it? This is the loot?" Sigh. You just can't win. One month of rest until Phoenix's birthday party. And I'm going to need it.