The stuff she comes up with…. She works really hard at bringing our oldest’s visions to life, be those visions recipes, stories, images, or birthday parties.
Since she was two, we have always done a puppet show, which is normally my responsibility. We’ve used hand-puppets and stick puppets, based on whatever is available. Some years I make up a story, like when Dora got to visit Elmo’s World. Last year, we retold the story of Eric Carle’s Little Cloud, and used a spritz bottle to spray our gets with some rain water.
But of course, it’s my wife who does all the great load of work: the planning, the invitations, the phone calls, the cake orders and plate purchasing. Our invitations have become increasingly more intricate. Last year, we decided to do a theme based on the Magic School Bus’s “Weatherman” story. We ordered the books based on the episode, which we used as invitations. My wife drew a full-size poster of Ralphie as “Weatherman” – a pretty good copy, too! We played “pin the lightning bolt on Weatherman” for prizes.
My sister-in-law, the science teacher, had to come dressed as Ms. Frizzle, something she’ll have to do more than once in her lifetime, for sure, now that the little one has become into the MSB. She conducted a weather-related experiment.
We always have a craft activity, a limbo dance, and of course, cake. We have made color copies of a page from a book and given it to the local Carvel or Baskin Robbins to use as the top of the cake – they do great stuff, if you give them enough time.
For this year’s Backyardigans party, we’re giving out the Race to the Tower of Power book, and sending invitations with a “key to the world” (you have to see the story to understand). The children will bring the key to the “Tower of Power” (which happens to be at our house) and get a prize. She cut out about a dozen different key shapes on paper, and then she will take the outline of the key on the paper and attach it to a prize. Unbelievable.
Our favorite ritual involves making a mandala, a work of sand art (originally Tibetan), with the birthday number in the middle and a circular pattern with all kinds of shapes inside the circle. Last year my daughter helped my wife to make it for the first time. We always take a picture of it, but of course the mandala helps remind all of us that life is not permanent, and that art, like life, should be appreciated in the moment.
I am always amazed how much my wife is able to do for these parties. She gets very involved in them, and she works so hard to make it just what our daughters want. I’m always so proud of her when the moms tell us how much fun our parties are. I hope my wife enjoys them when they happen as much as she enjoys planning them. We’ll miss these days when the girls are older. I know I’ll be sad when they say to me, “I’m too old for a puppet show, Daddy!”