Icing on the CakePosted: February 7, 2009
Well, we survived Zack’s 8th birthday party yesterday. That’s about all you can hope to do with these things, especially when youprovide the entertainment. And, no, I didn’t dress up as Bobo the balloon twisting clown. I just don’t believe in paying $600 to have someone else entertain a bunch of 8-year-olds when I’m perfectly capable of doing it myself. At least in theory.
So we had Zack’s much anticipated Football Party in the church parish hall. My basic theory with this stuff is to sugar ‘em up, wear ‘em out, and send ‘em home. 90 minutes tops. And the kids have a great time just playing with one another rather than having the party feel like another one of the endless pre-planned events they get shuttled to and from all week.
But unstructured time still means you have to have some activities at the ready. There was touch football, of course; football bingo (with Skittles as the edible markers); time with the nursery school’s scooters – we raided the closet; a building project with marshmallows and toothpicks that was the least popular of all; pizza; and finally a Carvel football cake purchased the day before the Super Bowl.
These things always feel like the longest hour and a half of my life. After 30 minutes Bryna and I just looked at one another and shook our heads. The prospect of a glass of wine at the end of it all was the only thing that kept us going. That and the shrieks of unbridled joy.
The best part for this clergy dad was that Zack had requested his baptismal candle be put on the cake. I didn’t realize this until Bryna stuck the honking thing into the laces of the football-shaped ice cream cake. The tradition is to light the candle every year on the anniversary of your child’s baptism. We remember to do this most years. But that wonderful connection between Zack’s identity as a child of God and a child of his earthly parents is compelling. I’m pretty sure he didn’t make this connection – he just wanted a big candle on his cake to put an exclamation point on the day. But I hope that one day he’ll come to see the significance. And I thank him for making me think about both birthdays and baptism in a new way.