The scheming and theming might be over. Upon Calvin’s calendar reaching double digits, having a party theme that looks like you tried too hard, in his 10-year-old words is not very cool, Mom. I could hardly find a plain enough Evite to send out for the party and it was made clear that the plates and napkins were to be solid colors only.
I thought once we hit Party City he’d warm up to some decor, perhaps a baseball theme since he’d really stepped up to the plate with the Brewers, Richfield baseball this season. Alas, he stood firm. I barely talked him into four solid color balloons. The cashier empathized, How old? me: 10; cashier: Consider yourself lucky. My son is 13. All he wanted for his birthday last week was a ride for him and his friends to the movie theater. Nothing else.
Well, I reasoned, if it’s the end of an era, so be it. I’d just like to hold on to their littleness for awhile longer. Reflecting on previous parties from pizza and a movie (age 6), Lego My Eggo (age 7), Flip this Room (age 8, all about the remodel) and Skyzoning Out (age 9), we’d had a good run of theme-oriented fun. This year, we chose Grand Slam, a laser-tag, mini-golf and krazy kar extravaganza.
We set the party date for a Friday and offered to shuttle the boys from Minneapolis to Grand Slam’s Burnsville location with a 4:00p.m. drop off. All parents took us up on this offer and we were out the door by 4:20 and with shameless use of the I-35W carpool lane during rush hour, we arrived at Grand Slam by 4:40. Jim, headmaster at the complex, allowed us to check in at 4:45, prior to our official 5:00 start time. He also had great suggestions about the order of events from laser tag to mini golf to pizza, then krazy kars to arcade. I would’ve gotten these all out of order.
My husband and I played Win, Lose or Deal and then played mini golf with the boys, which was much better than sitting on a bench in non-participatory mode. I appreciated the boys’ age, the little monitoring required and the super-easy process at Grand Slam. All for $14.95 a kid (Package #3). Since we were transporting all of the boys, I opted not to bring the triple-layer, double-fudge cake into the venue. We saved that and the presents for our house.
The boys burned off some energy playing laser tag no doubt. As a result, switching gears to mini golf when they were ready for a more focused activity, worked well. The course was close-knit without much breathing room, but I appreciated the Pirates of the Caribbean meets The Truman Show vibe they created. Golf was followed by pizza and pop and all sorts of goofiness, which was really sweet, actually.
The boys ended the eve there burning through the six tokens included in their package. Some were lucky to hit jackpots and collect 250+ tickets spewing out of the machines only to discover 500 tickets would only get them a packet of gummi bears. I appreciated that restraint. It forced each boy to carefully select one meaningful item from the ticket redemption area.
I enjoyed a more subdued ride back to our house, with that one special item in each of their hands. When all the boys took their places at the table, we cut into the cake. I’m sad to report that I only got 5 of the 10 candles lit before impatience pre-empted my lighting (we would make up for this during the half-cake family b-day later that weekend). And yes, cake was served on solid color plates.
Cal decided that for this year’s party, he wouldn’t mind gifts. We had a rapid-fire opening of them and most all translated well to the front lawn from lawn darts to Nerf guns — and they all needed to immediately be tested. Calvin does like his gifts, but he also really enjoyed picking out each and every item that went into each invitee’s birthday swag bag. There were squishy basketballs, paddleballs, bouncy balls and gumballs (Ha! It’s a theme).
The parents arrived promptly at 8:30 and the house had quieted by 8:41 or something close to that. I found myself totally cool with the downplay of the theme and the mellowness that was my son’s tenth year celebration. It’s definitely a whole new era.