Double-digit ‘blowout’ party

When you talk about parties, you’d usually associate the term “blowout” with a full-on, adult bash. You know the type—loud music, adult beverages, the whole shebang. It’s not usually something you’d associate with a 10-year-old’s birthday party, but that’s what we had.

To be honest, if you’d have asked me 15 years ago if I’d even have kids, let alone two, I’d have probably laughed maniacally. In fact, I probably did. Throw birthday parties into the mix, and the whole idea would have been even more ludicrous.

(Full disclosure here… I do still laugh maniacally at the thought of having children, usually after they’ve been fighting all day. I do try to be out of their earshot when I do it.)

Maybe it was the dark threats muttered more than once about having children just like me that made me think offspring probably weren’t a good idea.

By now, you should know me well enough to realize I tend to have to learn things the hard way. Temporarily forgetting the warnings, somehow I found myself being a mother.

At first, it was pretty easy. I mean, they cried a little (so did I), they slept a lot (I didn’t), and they ate (I think I did). They stayed in the same place you put them.

Then they became mobile, and things got a little trickier. There are still days that I wonder why on earth I worked so hard to teach them how to talk.

Perhaps no one was more surprised than me when my daughter started writing her birthday list in January. I was pretty sure she shouldn’t be having another birthday so soon after the last one, and when had she gotten so tall? Certainly she couldn’t be THAT old.

Wait a minute. Ten? Ten years? When did that happen? I promptly went into comfortable denial until zero hour. After all, April was so far in the future. We had plenty of time. She had considered and discarded no fewer than five different party themes already—one including me knitting everyone real waterproof mermaid tails—that surely we should wait until she decided on one. I made a few stabs at online shopping to find her the perfect presents, but so far no stress.

Then, suddenly, it was April. We had two weeks until the big day. Two weeks. Around here, that passes like a gnat’s sneeze. We ran to Party City to purchase the finally decided-upon Tiki party items—after I talked her out of insisting that I make the grass skirts out of yarn. We narrowed down cake choices, and started making the requisite phone calls for the party invitations.

I should have known things weren’t going to be easy when I botched the cookies for the school treats. For the first time in known history, Grandma Dorothy’s sour cream cookies came out flat. Struggling gamely to get them to the school on time, I frosted them and sprinkled them, and arrived with about 30 seconds to spare. One crisis averted. So many to go.

The morning of the party, I started making the requested confetti angel food cake. So far, so good. I mixed the pineapple, mango and whipped cream for topping. I started getting the supplies together, proud of myself for remembering to snag candles and a knife to cut the cake.

The minutes sped by. I pulled the cake out of the oven and set it to cool while I packed the ingredients for the special Tiki Colada Punch—a definitely non-adult beverage. Still running on time.

The plan was to throw on a Hawaiian shirt, put the cooled cake on a plate, put on the topping, and leave for the party, arriving early. The shirt part went as planned, but nothing else did. The cake hadn’t cooled yet, and it’s a no brainer that you don’t put Cool Whip on a warm cake. Plan B. Put the cake on a plate and frost it when we got there. Fine. Then sibling rivalry reared its head, in the form of a tantrum.

Intrepidly, I loaded up my daughter and party supplies and we charged off to set up for the party, already running 15 minutes behind. As we bumped our way across the railroad tracks, I thought I heard a thump. The truck wasn’t acting strangely, so I thought nothing of it.

Halfway to the highway, I heard a louder THUMP, and sure enough, it was followed by that awful flapflapflapflap that means a flat tire.

We pulled over to the side, and surveyed the damage. Our grandiose plans had been stymied by a simple gap in a piece of rubber. Luckily, our Knight In Dusty Car braved the Road of Rubble, out-waited the Endless Train, and traversed the Pathway of Punctures to switch vehicles, change the tire, and save the day.

So, my girl had a real blowout event. She was remarkably blase about the whole thing, even going so far as to suggest that now she’ll have a good story to tell about her milestone “double digit” party.

And so will I! She reminded me what it was like to be 10 again, so full of hope and optimism and youth. Maybe that’s the best gift our kids give us—to have that age back for just a few minutes. I’d call that a pretty good gift. Maybe kids aren’t so bad after all.

Shana Thornhill lives on farm near Marion. She can be reached at