My oldest son turned 7 a few weeks ago. As I wrote about here, it was a really special and simple day and it was really lovely.
His birthday party was last weekend since every child we know also has a birthday in October and their parents snatched up all of the Sundays before and after his actual birthday but I’m not bitter it’s fine whatEVER. We hosted a few kids my son sees most days of the week at our homeschooling activities; I’d say these are his “closest” friends and he wanted a small party with the kids he sees most.
My husband suggested that maybe it’s time to do an outdoor party or a party at a miniature golf place or something, but I’ve only ever held parties for my boys in our house, all on my own, start to finish. Especially because of my accident which I’m still recovering from, I could not handle the thought of anything too out of the ordinary like figuring out how to bring food and utensils and plates to some park and reserving a table and what if it rains and all that stressful adult stuff I’m bad at. So we had it at home.
In our homeschool community, almost everything we do is NOT “drop-off” so at our parties we make sure to have plenty of fun food for parents to stay and enjoy. Sometimes there are adult beverages. This time there were margaritas. Fun!
I designed an elaborate scavenger hunt for the kids’ LEGO-themed party favors, including three bags of clues and goodies for each of the guests, which came to something like 24 bags and yes, my poor right hand was exhausted. Oh well, more trips to the hand therapist! Anyway.
After the scavenger hunt we let the kids play and I facilitated a game and then it was time for dessert. Well, much as my husband can cook and bake, I’m the baker in this house and there is no baking going on (see hand issue mentioned above). What I proposed to my son instead of a cake was an ice cream sundae bar, complete with more vegan-friendly toppings than you can shake a stick at. He loved the idea.
I dressed in 1950s soda jerk attire, complete with a paper hat I got from a local 1950s diner. A few days before the party, Fancy Assistant Brandon and I made a trip to the kosher candy store in Pico Robertson and I bought Brandon a sampling of Israel’s finest tiny chocolate bars (none of which are vegan, what’s up, Israel, come on!?). The candy store is called Munchies and it’s a must-visit if you are in LA and are vegan (almost everything is pareve!) or kosher or just want to go to an awesome candy store. I bought sprinkles (we call them Jimmies in my house), miniature caramel chips, and miniature peppermint candies, and we had three kinds of ice cream and vegan whipped cream and chocolate sauce and cherries on top. It was awesome.
The kids loved it. The parents thought I looked adorable and hysterical (even before they finished their margaritas). It was great and I got a lesson in making things work despite limitations.
There’s a story about Itzchak Perlman, the famous violinist. A string on his violin broke at the start of a very important performance. He simply tucked his violin under his chin and played the entire concerto with three strings, using those three to make the sound of four. He was basically recomposing the execution of the piece the whole time; instantaneously figuring out how to make three strings do what four normally do. And he did it.
When asked how he maintained his composure and achieved this, he very humbly and quietly replied, “Sometimes it is the artist’s task to find out how much music you can still make with what you have left.”
Far be it for me to dramatize and overthink anything in my life (’cause that’s never happened before), but I want to say this about my son’s non-cake ice cream sundae birthday: I wanted to make a cake and have things be like they always are. I don’t want my injury to change my life. But it’s okay to not make a cake like I do every year. And it was fine. It was great. If I have a positive attitude about things, my kids follow suit; they loved it.
Sometimes we make life happen with what we have, and sometimes we make it happen with what we have left.
Here’s to mixing things up, even when what you want to mix up is cake batter.