Monday, June 29, 2009

Birthday party or torture session? You be the judge.

I've mentioned before that Anna loves older girls. This love borders on obsession and if she so much as hears a female voice outside she immediately plasters herself to a window to inspect the situation. Who is out there? Is it a girl? Is she big? Is she (hold breath)... six? Luckily for her we live on a cul-du-sac populated with girls. Next door alone are three of them ages 8 through 12, all blond and athletic and amazingly tolerant of Anna's attention. Across the court is another junior high school aged girl and next door to her, on the corner lives Lydia! In my mind her name contains an exclamation point because that is always how Anna says it. Actually it should be spelled *gasp*Lydia! but I am much too lazy to type all of that out just for sake of accurately depicting my child's insanity. But I digress.

Lydia! just turned seven and her birthday party was yesterday. We had gorgeous weather and as Lydia! has a pool in her backyard there were lots of kids running around in their bathing suits as they got their sugar highs on. At 1:00 pm sharp we grabbed Lydia!'s gift and headed across the street as the girls marveled at the unicorn pinata hanging from a tree. I thought Rachel's head was going to explode when she spotted the rented cotton candy and sno cone machines sitting under a tent in the front yard. "Mommy," she told me, "Lydia's party is sooooo beautiful and exciting." So far, so good.

So far, so good came to a screeching halt as we reached the backyard area and Rachel saw the dogs. Have I mentioned that Rachel is terrified of dogs? I must have left that out of my previous post because the very thought of Rachel in that much fear - irrational though it may be - just makes me a little sad. So there I stand in a festive backyard filled with people I've never met, one child knocking people over to get to her friend and another child wrapping every limb around my body as she screams bloody murder directly into my ear. Hi, nice to meet you. Happy birthday, kid, here's a shrieking three-year-old to help you celebrate.

Smiling in a vague apologetic manner I made my way over to the swingset/play area structure thingy (that IS the proper terminology right?) and set Rachel's tush on the highest spot I could reach so I could begin peeling her off of my body. I should pause here to explain that there were three dogs in the backyard, none of whom paid Rachel even the slightest attention: a tiny white fluff ball of a puppy, a perfectly cheerful floppy-eared spaniel and an ancient hound who barely had the energy to turn around and view the source of this ear-splitting racket. No sooner had I gotten Rachel to quiet down (in other words, whisper about how she didn't want the dogs near her rather than scream it) then the party moved to the front yard.

With a deep breath I gratefully moved out front, where the dogs were not allowed. Rachel's tears were dried and Anna and Lydia! were deep in discussion about the pinata. Two seconds later I look down the street and see a clown is exiting his vehicle. No, Dan was not home from work, this was actually a hired clown in a costume. He was far enough away that I thought I could safely point him out to Rachel and let her warm up to the idea before he was standing right in front of her in full makeup and costume. Rachel took one look and turned into a movie character. Eyes widened, mouth a horrified O, she turned right around and ran screaming for our front door across the court. I had seriously never seen her move that fast.

I spent the rest of the afternoon shuttling back and forth between Rachel in our house and Anna at the party. Rachel would not be convinced to go back and really she had no reason to because Lydia! and Anna made sure Rachel got cake and ice cream, a goody bag, a balloon creation (made by the clown but we didn't mention that) and a portion of the candy from the pinata. Also, the house without Anna? So quiet. And air-conditioned. Rachel is her mommy's daughter - she might have a little anxiety but she's no fool.

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