Quinn has never had a birthday party. His birthday is in January, also known as post-Christmas-checkbook, mandatory shit-I-have-to-fly-to-California, icy road- to-certain-death month.
Since that is such a mouthful, I usually just say January.
This year, on top of all the other fun that January brings, Quinn was sick as a dog on his birthday. He opted to cut his dinner out short, refused his cake, and canceled the toy shopping trip we’d planned. Birthday number five was a complete bust.
Since he will be 6 this coming year, this is now viewed as a failure. I’ve been asked about it by parents who fear the lack of an invitation for their precious bundle has been a slight.
It’s fun to assure them that no, there was no slight, I just suck at some of these parental things.
Like birthday parties.
We have been to at least one party for every one of his friends. Some of them are annual events.
And by event, I don’t meant happening, or occurrence.
I mean all-out, did-you-need-a-permit-for-this event.
The most recent such event was earlier this month. A carnival party. Like a real carnival.
There was a face painting station, a temporary tattoo station, a bounce house, and soooo many games. Dunk tank, balloon darts, tin can alley and more – all the old standards. And winners got tickets that could be redeemed for prizes in the prize tent.
And lest you think that was a clever substitute for a goodie bag, nay it was not.
The goody bags were separate, full of a large jar of gumballs, a bag of custom labelled cotton candy, carnival treats, tattoos and more.
I never got to fully explore Quinn’s, because I was interrupted by the clown that was making the rounds handing out kick ass balloon animals – the cutest damn little monkeys you could imagine.
Have I even mentioned that I am afraid of clowns?
Food was plentiful – hot dogs, fire-roasted peanuts (as in fire roasted right there), cotton candy, sno-cones (real ones), cheese-slathered nachos…all the traditional carnival fare.
The kids, of course, had a blast, shrieking, yelling, and chasing each other with the high-powered water rifles from the prize tent.
But it was during a lull in the noise that Quinn came up to me, elbowing his way through all of the guests that were gathered in one closely knit spot to watch the birthday girl unwrap her presents.
At my side, he piped up with the strident voice he only uses when saying something I fervently hope no one else hears.
“Mama, next year, can I get a birthday present?”
Not, “can I get a specific present.”
Not, “can I get a party.”
“Can I get a present.”
Sooo many eyes turned my way.
That’s right. Back in the money-crunching, flight-anxiety-ridden, random-snowstorm, poor-sick-boy month of January, we had forgotten to reschedule the shopping trip.
My kid got nothing at all from his parents on his fifth birthday.
And he stayed silent about it for seven months, until it could be brought up in the single most humiliating way possible.
And so, once again, I am out of the running for Mother of the Year.