Small Wonders: Booting the locust swarm out the door

September 24, 2012

Things sure to take a late-summer heat wave to new levels of torture:

Woolen long-johns. A car without air-conditioning. Ten manic girls camped out in your living room.

Last week we entertained a gaggle of princesses for our 9-year-old’s sleepover birthday.

Have you noticed how kids’ birthdays seem to last an entire week?

Seven days early: “My birthday is this week! Can I open a present?”

The day before: “It’s my birthday eve. Can I open a present?”

At 11:50 p.m. that night: “I can’t sleep. Can I open a present?”


Birthday morning: “Don’t you have something to say to me?”

And that was only Wednesday. A midweek celebratory lunch at Bob’s Big Boy was followed by relatives dropping off frankincense on Thursday and myrrh on Friday.

It wasn’t until Saturday that we held the actual birthday party, the pinnacle of a child’s high holy days. The chesty, tight-sweatered KCAL9 weather ladies promised triple-digit temperatures. They did not disappoint. But what's a family without a pool to do?

When I was young, we were content with running through sprinklers on scorching hot days. We envied the kid with an oscillating sprinkler on his lawn; the one that shot high in the air, fanning slowly like Farrah Fawcett’s liquid eyelash.

Today, kids get a 5-in-1 bounce house with waterslide, obstacle course and basketball court delivered to their front yard. The closest we had in my childhood was a soiled mattress we found down the dirt road.

Having children has blessed me with many “aha!” moments of self-discovery. And parties like this are the low-hanging fruit of life lessons. For instance, I’d always wondered if the soothing tone of my voice was inaudible only to my own offspring. I am pleased to confirm that your chemically-imbalanced preteens cannot hear me either.

“Close the door behind you, please.”

“Dry your feet off, please.”

“Who left the door open?”

“Why are there water tracks through the living room?”

“Seriously, guys! Close the door!”

And people who bemoan the hyperactive chaos of boys have never seen the “Lord of the Flygirls” reaction when one subset of maidens decides they don’t want to go down the waterslide exactly as prescribed by the other island denizens. Barely an hour into the party, pitchforks and torches were out and beheadings scheduled for those who did not comply.

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