Saturday, March 17, 2007

Great moments in parenting, spring broken and other joys of suburban life

A week ago my daughter complained of a sore throat and began moping about as is her wont, and I let her mope about but then warned her sternly the times when one is mopey are good times for alone time. A few hours later, she had a low fever. So the next day, Friday, I kept her home from school and her condition stayed the same.

During all this her father was in Mexico City to fix some problemos telefonos a un banco. But he returned Sunday and I escaped with my sanity barely intact to the book store, a movie--some whatever stuff. When I got home, she'd been outside playing with some neighbor kids and looked like she was about to wilt, so she came in for rest. I took her temperature. Yep--another fever. This is likely strep.

The thing about sore throats and fevers is that if it's strep, the doctor will give you an anti-biotic and it will clear the fever is twenty-four hours, but if it's not, the doctor will thank you for stopping by and send you home on your merry way, prescribing rest and plenty of fluids. I always feel like a failure with the latter prescription--you know, like an over-anxious mother.

Then I feel like a failure if I miss the former because it means, in this case, my daughter's been sick three days longer than she would have if I'd gone to her pediatrician on Friday. I guess for me, motherhood is a mousetrap ready to snap on me if I take the cheese or not.

So, by Wednesday she was back at school, and good thing too, because I can't write when the kids are home bothering me, and I had a freelance piece due that day.

Next month is her birthday and she requested to have her party at Libby Lu's, something I did not automatically say no to. The first time I saw Libby Lu's at the mall, I was a bit sickened to see little girls all dolled up in make up and wearing black sequined tube tops. It was the black sequins that got me. Not age appropriate I think. Not that make up is, but the make up is pure child's play and the dress up should be too, and black sequins don't fit that bill.

But last month she attended a party there and came back the happiest I'd seen her come back from a birthday party, so I called Libby Lu's to ask about pricing, and their rack room rate is $22.50 a child.


I tortured myself over this for about a week and finally brought it up to my husband, who sensibly told me to check out the competitor, but they were no better. Here's the thing: at this age, I live by the principle that you invite all the kids or none of the kids, and you can break that up by gender, according to Nancy's Principles for Children's Birthday Parties. She's got ten girls in her class, plus one other tight friend, so we were looking at $250 just for the makeovers. Cake not included. Gee whiz! At Chuck E. Cheese you get pizza, cake, games and you get to meet Chuck, all for around a hundred bucks.

So, I made up my mind that I would let Emma choose to compromise the principles, but also give her the choice of having a party at home to invite all of her friends. You can invite three friends to Libby Lu's, I said, or all of your friends for a party at home. Three or four friends, Mom? Yes, three or four. Four or five? Uuuh...Five or six, Mom?

"No," I said firmly. "Three or four." What about Pump it Up, she asked? Pump it Up is another party venue with four our five bounce houses in a big room. It's a lot of fun, but I already checked into them and they ain't cheap either. "Next year, we'll combine your party with your brother's and have it at Pump it Up," I said.

It took her two more seconds to decide.

Okay, let's have the party at home!

Hooray! I should have just decided this one for her, but I'm glad we're on the same side. Still, looking at what I wrote after last year's birthday party, I'm getting that old gnawing anxiety again because even though we'd planned, we still ended up with 35 extra minutes.
Messes were made, feelings were hurt, battles were fought and won and otherwise tons of pandemonium, but I think all in all most of the girls had a good time.
  • Children will not mind you.
  • When told a certain game is about to begin, some children will say, "I don't want to play." And they won't.
  • Children will not mind you.
  • Do not offer children choices in beverages or foods.
  • Two hours is too long for a 5-year birthday party.
  • Children will not mind you.
They also started diving into present opening while I was in the other room looking for a piece of paper to write down what came from who. I'll have to ask the moms at pre-school what their daughters brought, making me 15% less perfect in their eyes.
This year, I'm adding pizza and a mini-makeover. Maybe I can lasso a friend into helping me with that part. My husband is brave and smart, but the subtleties of hair and glitter gloss might elude even him.

Speaking of my husband, he was approached by the president of his company early in January. It was one of those moments when he knew someone was behind him but he was right in the middle of something, so he held up a hand without looking to tell whoever it was to wait. Oops. Anyway, His Royal Excellency, the president, was there to inform my husband that he had carried over 79 hours of vacation time and that he was only allowed to carry over 40, but that he was going to allow him to keep 58.

Fair enough. And good, I thought. Let's use those hours. This week is Spring Break for the kids and we're bookended with various in law visits. Plus, we're going to convert Brendan's room into a big boy room. Of course, on the eve of our vacation, as is usual, Gene's boss gives him the "you're not really going on vacation now?" routine that we suffer at every vacation, and many a curse goes through my head as I'm sure goes through Gene's when this occurs, every time. Yes, as a matter of fact I am, was Gene's reply, though I'm sure it was more politic than that. So, of course he had to stay past midnight last night to fix whatever it is software engineers fix before a BIG BUILD. I actually don't know what time he got in last night. I had long been asleep and slept in until 8:00 because the children are at Grandma's.

I have bagels and sliced fruit waiting for when he wakes up, and then taxes and gardening after that. Ah, the pleasures of a child-free weekend!



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh, Nancy, I was exhausted just reading about the bday party let alone experiencing it in real life! What happened to a half-hour play time, cake, ice cream, presents, out the door and home again?! Black sequin tube tops are only appropriate to those who a) have something with which to hold them up; b)and whose primary occupation requires them to stand on corners! What happened to dressup in fluffy tule gowns and poofy skirts and tiarras?

" I guess for me, motherhood is a mousetrap ready to snap on me if I take the cheese or not."

It seems to come with the territory, unfortunately. However, once on the downhill side, its less so. Its just the getting there that's tough...

1:31 PM  
Blogger Mike in S.A. said...

You've sure had a long week. I guess that explains the change in the subheading at the top of your blog:

Feeling 32% less cute lately... Thoughts on news, media, family. Hopefully, a few laughs along the way.

7:05 PM  
Anonymous Parenting Book said...

Take a deep breath and repeat after me, "I don't have to be perfect to be a good parent." You're doing fine!

1:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, Parenting Book, where were you when I was making every mistake in your big book??!!!


1:09 PM  

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