Pinata and Candy: $30.00
Food, Drinks and Paper Goods: I don't even know…a couple hundred dollars
Watching your son smash his first birthday cake into his mouth: Priceless
I started planning Garrett's birthday party over a month ago. You see, as the anniversary of his birth rapidly approached I found myself dealing with a critical case of delayed onset postpartum despair syndrome and the only way to make it through his birthday without blubbering like some maniac was to pour my time into the preparation. (I would like to explain that my DOPDS was self-diagnosed—and also a self-invented syndrome—most people would call it simple nostalgia. I longed for the days of itty bitty Garrett who napped on my chest and needed head support in the carseat.) We decided to have a hot dog barbeque at Ramona Oaks Park, inviting all of our local family and Garrett's friends from church. His actual birthday landed on a Friday, so we picked that day, July 20, to have the Cars themed jamboree.
I already had all the paper goods, the piñata, the sodas, watermelon, ice cream, etc, so the morning began with my mom, Garrett and me getting the rest of the food. We headed down to Costco and picked up the buns, chips, and waters. Garrett started getting sleepy so we dashed to Stater Brothers to pick up the cake and get the ice. Almost a month ago I had ordered a Cars cake and I had checked on it on Monday because, well, I'm paranoid like that. So, early Friday afternoon I picked it up. They opened the box and the cutest Cars cake stared back at me. I made sure it said 1st birthday and that my son's name was spelled with two r's and two t's. It did and it was so we were good to go. I picked up an individual slice for Garrett so that he could dig in and we could all watch him before we murdered the beautiful Lightning McQueen confection. My mom took everything to her house (right by the park) and I took Garrett home for a nap. He must have known something was up because I could not get the child to sleep. When I finally did, he only slept for an hour. Silly Mommy. Don't you know that big boys don't take naps?
Around four o'clock we went out to my parents' house. Garrett played with Grandpa while my mom and I cut the watermelon. My mom finished her pasta salad and cooked the chicken nuggets (for the babies) while I headed down to the park with all the tablecloths, etc. When I arrived at the park I discovered problem number one.
Problem Number One
Ramona Elementary Schoolers, fresh from band camp, were setting up on the stage. Of course, they were having a concert. I decided to relocate to the oak trees by the pool. Unfortunately, this was nowhere near the playground for the little kids but thankfully, it was far enough away from the "symphony" that their off-key concert wasn't a terrible bother. However, this did lead to problem number two.
Problem Number Two
The park seems to have removed all the grills from the giant barbeques, one of which we were set up right next to. So, Troy had to cart—in a little red wagon—all the hot dogs across the bridge and over to a barbeque by the horseshoe pits, cook them there, and then cart them back.
By this point, Garrett, with only one short nap for the day, began to yawn. He perked up when we stuffed his mouth full of watermelon, chicken nuggets, and olives from the pasta salad. After the 44 partygoers finished stuffing their faces with Ballparks and Ruffles, we gathered the kids around to take a bat to a racecar—er, that is, whack Lightning McQueen, the piñata. Our particular piñata was designed for little children and had ribbon underneath that you pull to release candy. My intention was to let the babies go in age order from youngest to oldest: Nevaeh, Garrett, Madison…then let the bigger kids in on the action. Twenty ribbons. One would release the candy. Nevaeh pulled a ribbon. Nothing happened. I help Garrett grab a ribbon. As he starts pulling the trap door begins to release. Are you kidding me? I quickly have him grab a different one and shove the trap door back up inside Lightning. Madison pulls a ribbon. For the bigger kids we broke out the bat. Jadyn and Makenna took a few good whacks. Kian hit it and broke the rope. Troy tied it back together. Kaylie whacked it. Chloe whacked it. And it broke open and spilled its glorious guts and the kids gathered candy and went about their day on a sugar high.
By this point, Garrett was really starting to get tired so we opted to do the cake before the presents. We opened the lid on his cake and Troy took a couple of pictures. And my brother, who was taking some video, zoomed in…
Problem Number Three
"Um, why does his cake say Barrett?" For a split second I thought he was pulling my leg. But his voice had no inkling of this being a joke. Sure enough, and very clearly might I add, my son's name had been forever etched into his birthday cake not as Garrett but as Barrett. Somehow, and I honestly have no clue as to why this occurred, both my mother and I failed to notice, in Stater Brothers or anytime after, that his cake was actually made for someone who named their poor baby Barrett. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that Garrett was tired and crying and burying his head in my shoulder when I looked it over.
We had taken his high chair to the park so we put his cake on the tray and sang happy birthday. I blew out the candle and put him in the high chair. He began by squishing his hands around in the frosting and squeezing the cake. Unaware that it was food that he was playing with, I put a little taste in his mouth. Over the next twenty minutes, Garrett Barrett managed to consume nearly his entire (huge) slice of cake. And a mess he did make.
His outfit has been washed…and is in need of another washing to see if I can get all of the birthday bash food stains out of it. It took one sink, several paper towels, a new outfit, baby wipes, one mom, one grandma and one great-grandma to get him clean. When all was said and done, it was time for presents.
Most of the families with babies had to leave because their natives were getting restless, but we pressed on. Garrett sat on my lap and opened one gift. After that, he crawled away and ripped bows off of things and occasionally glanced to see what I was finding under all of the glorious wrappings. In the middle of opening the gifts, he decided to make a birthday doody. Because he is so horrible to change, it took my grandma and my aunt and possibly her entire family to get a new diaper on my child. By the end, Garrett was sitting, comatose, gazing at a tractor toy that lit up.
When the party was over the remaining people pitched in to help get everything cleaned up. Garrett's aunt Heather pushed him up and down the sidewalk on his Pooh ride-on toy while I hopped the fence into the pool area to wash the frosting off of Garrett's tray. My brother kept an eye out for security. Normally, the people the security guards catch in the pool area after hours are delinquent pot-smoking teenagers. I had a funny image of a security guard looking puzzled as he caught a pastor's wife in the locked pool, using an outside shower to wash a high chair covered in her son's first birthday cake.
All in all, we had too much food, too many drinks, way too many presents for one little boy—though he adores them all, and too much fun. Garrett was zonked in the backseat, nestled comfortably in his big boy carseat, when I pulled into my garage. It took Troy and I another two hours to get everything cleaned up and put away.
In the end I think fun was had. Garrett is one. He'll never be my tiny baby again. And at the party, I'm pleased to announce that I was too distracted by food and cake and piñata and birthday bliss to worry too much about the fact that in no time at all, his college applications are due.