Birthday Party

We are negotiating our way through January. The children are back in school. Wife is hard at work kicking butt and taking names, like she always does. I am sitting in front of my computer reading, writing, editing, and working on whatever comes in front of me.

The children have adjusted to their time being consumed by the cruel and unusual academic punishments. It was a nice Christmas Break, but I think the house is glad to have the little Miracles of Christ out and back at school.

We can’t just hit the ground running, though. There needs to be some consideration for the fatigue and struggles our children suffer. That’s why they invented three-day weekends. It gives them a chance to process the labors of the previous days and weeks. It’s tough. Not only do they have to sit through school, but sometimes, God forbid, there’s homework for them to do after school. Sometimes they’re able to suck it up and do it. Other times it’s a nightmare that never seems to end. It’s hard for them, too.

There are also times where they need to go to school, but it’s only for a half day. Again, this brings joy to their faces. For me, it means I have half the time to do what I need to do before heading back to school to pick them up. It’s incredible, sometimes. On full days, I ask what they did. They answer, “Nothing.” I don’t know what half of nothing is, but I get the same answer when I pick them up on half-days.

It’s the same thing when The Boy goes to his friends’ houses. They do nothing. He’ll bring a toy, maybe some Pok√©mon cards. When he gets back, he did nothing. Whatever it is, it’s easier than the legal torture he’s subjected to in school.

The children must admit, though, that life isn’t always readin’, ritin’, and rackin’ brains. There are times where the clouds open up and let a little sunshine in. Sunshine came on one particular weekend when the boy was invited to a birthday party. I escorted him. The party was a few towns away, which meant a little drive. I love driving, especially when someone is with me. It means a chance to play some music and talk.

An exterior shot of a Chuck E Cheese.
The site of the party.
(Photo: chuckecheese.com)

I look back at The Boy and ask if he’s ready for the party. Is he excited about it? He ducks out of my view and hides his face. He doesn’t want to talk. He just wants to get to the party and play with his friends.

The party is at Chuck E. Cheese, a haven for poor, mistreated innocent children like my son. The children congregate toward each other. I find grown-ups to commiserate with. One of the grown-ups just happened to be a neighbor. I coached his kids during one of my stints. We get to talking about parenthood and the thankless duties we perform.

He proceeds to tell me about the previous weeks his family had, which included a couple of hockey games they attended. I listen to the tales of family bonding and watching the Boston Bruins together. Snacks, drinks, and hockey. What a time they must have had. My children aren’t much for watching sports. Like you, my neighbor is a loyal reader and he’s well aware of where sports rank on the list of my children’s interests.

After a little game-playing and running around a crowded arcade, like children like to do, it was time for food. Pizza and chicken bites. Staples of a birthday party. My ongoing quest to shed some inches from my waist was sidetracked yet again. Both the pizza and the chicken were good. This led me and other adults to discuss where we get our pizza when ordering at home.

Pizza and chicken are finished. Time for cake. I decline the cake after going slightly crazy with the pizza and chicken. After cake, there’s a little time left for some more games before heading back home. The Boy and I play together in the final stage of the birthday party.

The Chuck E Cheese mascot posing for pictures with children.
A quick break from pizza and games.

Party’s over. It’s time to head back home. I ask The Boy if he had a good time. He did. I look in the mirror as I talk to him. He ducks and hides again. I adjust the radio. I was thinking about the talk of hockey, and I wonder if we’d be lucky to find a game. Sure enough, we do. I explain faceoffs, one-timers, and checking to the boy, who informs me that this is boring.

We get home. Wife is there. She asks how the party went. I tell her it was good. I talked to the neighbors. The pizza was good, and I ate more than I should have once again.

“What did you do?” Wife asked The Boy.

“Nothing,” The Boy answered.