In a few short days, I’ll be hosting a Backwards Birthday party for my twin girls—7 going on 8. I say I’ll be hosting because my lovely wife drew the short straw and will be escorting my other daughter to Las Vegas to play soccer.
How many things are wrong with that sentence?
Let’s pretend for a moment that going to Las Vegas to play soccer makes sense and instead focus on the part where I’m in charge of planning and executing a birthday party for a passel of 7- and 8-year-old girls.
The planning process could have gone better.
I thought it would be a good idea to ask the girls what they wanted to do. This led to a long, winding discussion covering all the parties their friends had thrown in the past. It quickly became apparent that my kids were hanging out with kids who were either only children or independently wealthy.
Instead of admitting they were pricing themselves out of my comfort zone, I took the positive, peppy approach.
“C’mon girls. We can do better than renting out the entire Laser Tag/Jumpy-thing building and hiring a magician to do tricks while we eat pizza! How about we have an Easter egg hunt right here at home? You can hide the eggs!”
“Yeah, let’s do that,” said Julia.
“And we can have Dairy Queen cake,” said Isabel.
“And then we can go to a movie,” said Julia.
“Yeah, and then we can go to Fun ‘N Stuff and jump on the trampolines,” said Isabel.
“And, we can have our first sleep-over,” said Julia.
“Yes!” yelled Isabel.
And the two of them tore off around the house continuing to add to the list. I heard mention of riding horses and going to John Harvard’s for dinner before the sleepover—which is quite a feat because it’s located 3 hours away in western New York.
My wife just stood over the sink, cleaning dishes and laughing.
“Nice work, Dad. You really did a great job of managing their expectations.”
OK—well, I admit the initial discussion could have gone better, but we weren’t running short of ideas. For the next four weeks, the girls would bring up the topic and gradually we refined the list. In the end, we decided to have a Backwards Birthday party—which properly defined, starts by opening your presents and eating a Dairy Queen cake with your friends. Then, you go swimming at the Medina Rec Center pool for at least three hours—making sure to stand on your tippy toes when they measure to see if you’re tall enough to go down the slide—then you come home to eat hamburgers and hot dogs and watch a movie in your living room with of all your—hopefully—exhausted and well-behaved friends.
Then, your Dad sends everybody home and promises your first sleepover for a time in the future when Mom is at home and he is in Las Vegas.
I’ll let you know how it goes. In the meantime, enjoy our Annual Aquatics issue. It’s dedicated to all those departments who make eight-year-old birthday parties so much fun.
Keep up the good work!
Rodney J. Auth