Jun 24, 2021, 05:55AM

Fourth Birthday Party: Let’s Bounce

The balloons are strategically placed.

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2:25 a.m. RH wakes up from her bed, leaves her room and opens the bedroom door. She brings all of her important belongings and drops them on the bed. Panda, baby panda, warming neck wrap, and her purple thermos with straw.

5:20 a.m. Jonah, only sleeping since 12:30, and was awake for 15 or 20 minutes at 2:30, now does some unnecessary mental gymnastics, thinking about the party. RH slowly adjusts and turns over in the bed. A lone bird is chirping. Dawn. A June Saturday.

8:15 a.m. RH pokes Jonah in the nose and then puts her nose to Jonah's eye. "Good morning," Jonah murmurs. RH finally gets up, climbing down from the bed, and now she's on the top step of the stairs waiting for Mama. Not sure if she walks down the stairs, or if Mama came up to get her, or if Jonah carries her down the stairs. Jonah shuts the door and resets the alarm for 8:50. 

9:15 a.m. Jonah goes downstairs and the bouncy house deliveryman arrives, with the giant bouncy house rolled up, and the massive inflating machine. N has now been up with RH for an hour, but is now needed out there with the bouncy house guy. “Where is that extension cord?” We find the extension cord. Jonah goes back in to make coffee. Coffee is flooding the counter. Grandma, in from Boston for the week, is muttering about not knowing how much water to use.

Jonah is mopping up the coffee. Grandma wants to mop up the coffee. Jonah insists. Grandma watches Jonah mop up the coffee. Unbeknownst to us, RH opens the front door without a word and leaves, searching for Mama, who’s helping the bouncy house guy. Fortunately, she goes around to the back of the house and finds Mama.

9:45 a.m. Jonah and Grandma had an argument and Grandma shuts herself in her room, and then takes a shower. Jonah makes eggs and hopes N will eat eggs before the party at 11. N is too busy with balloons and banners and tablecloths. Daniel Tiger is on. RH is finally calm. I explain to her how dangerous it is for her to leave the house without us. I don’t think she’s interested in the severity of the situation. She wanted to find Mama. She found Mama.

10:30 a.m. Jonah gives the dogs the canine painkiller so they'll be quiet while shut in the bedroom upstairs. Jonah considers taking the painkiller, but opts instead for coffee.

11:00 a.m. The backyard is set up. The balloons are strategically placed. The magical bouncy house is inflated. The three- and four-year-olds gleefully rush in and start bouncing. More children arrive. More bouncing. Drinks are set up. No alcohol. Sparkling water, Coke Zero, lots of juice boxes. The pizza arrives. The adults are mingling without masks. It’s both familiar and surprising to see the faces of the parents from the afternoon pick-up line. The mingling continues. There’s enough space. The sun is out, but the heatwave of the previous two days is over. People are eating. One child needs to go to the potty. In a minute, there’s a procession of children going to the potty. RH wants a break and takes a few friends inside the house to play. We’re hoping to keep the riff raff contained to the outside. Mama sets a timer for 10 minutes. The four girls dutifully head back out with their parents when the timer beeps. The power of the beep, when used consistently.  More mingling. Everyone seems to be doing okay.

12:30 p.m. Both Mamas bring out the respective birthday cakes. We gather and the birthday girl and birthday boy have taken their seats, other small children whisked away from the cake seats. The candles are lit. Jonah announces we will sing two songs for the two children. The first is sung for RH. RH blows toward the candle. She’s too low. Jonah tells her to stand up and try again. She blows out the candle. Bryson’s turn. The candle is re-lit. The song is sung again. Bryson takes a deep breath and blows with force. Clapping all around. They’re both officially four years of age. The mini-cupcake tower comes out. Everyone’s interested. The bouncing resumes, this time aided by cupcake sugar. Everyone loves the cupcakes Mama chose.

1:15 p.m. The mamas set up the party bags. Plush mini-horses to go with the Spirit theme. (Spirit is a Netflix show and now a movie about girls and their horses.) Hugs. Goodbyes. Smiles. Children shuffling back to their cars with their parents, after all the bouncing.

1:45 p.m. The rest of the guests leave, except our neighbor and his three-year-old girl, who didn’t know any of the children except her neighbor and was overwhelmed until most of them left, but let herself bounce like crazy when things settled down. We head in to the garage and sit on the new couch. The garage has recently been cleansed of all the debris of the last decade, with new shelving against the walls and lemon-yellow paint on the walls. The girls play with Legos. The clean-up isn’t too bad. No pizza has been thrown. No cupcakes flung.

3:00 p.m. Jonah sorts the garbage, removing the plastic bottles for recycling and taking the cans out for redeeming. Close to 2000 cans last time. Nearly $100 to donate.

Jonah pops the balloons. One by one. Jonah takes down the banners, and folds up the black plastic folding chairs. The extension cord has been unplugged. The bouncy house is a square rubber pancake now. The backyard is ours once again.



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