I should also file this one under "Kid Party Planning."
The other day, as I was heading out to buy a birthday gift for one of Connor's friends (with VERY specific instructions to "get him a Beyblade Evil Gemios - they are on an end cap, and they only had a few, so I hid one towards the very back - and a LEGO Ninjago"), I was advised (by both boys) that I needed to pick up a seven year-old appropriate toy as well, as an invitation to a first grader's birthday was imminent. I went ahead and bought a Transformers multipack, because (1) it was scandalously on sale and (2) even if this party invite didn't materialize, it was a good gift to put up for a future occasion.
Later, I got a call from my spouse, who had picked up the kids, was still on school grounds, and I could hear both boys in the background:
Spouse: So, apparently, C.'s party is tonight at the new Chuck E. Cheese.
Me: No, it's not.
Spouse: Mom says no, it's not.
Both kids (shouting to be heard over the phone): No, it's tonight. C. said so.
Me: Okay, in no particular order: Parker has soccer practice tonight. Also, there is no such thing as the "new Chuck E. Cheese." The place does not exist. Finally, we don't attend parties for which there is no actual invitation, other than a word-of-mouth invite . . . from a six year-old.
That last one is a hard-and-fast rule in our household. You don't negotiate with terrorists, and you don't show up for a party for which there is no invite. A phone invitation from a parent that we know: fine. A verbal invite from a minor: non-starter.
Our strict adherence to this policy has its genesis in the "Peanut Butter and Jelly Cracker Party Incident of Aught Five." The perpetrator: our own firstborn, as a kindergartener. Like PJ's friend C., Connor liked to plan parties. He would draw diagrams of where people would sit. Or, if it was a pool party, where they would stand within the confines of the pool.
One day, without as much as a how-do-you-do to his parents, Connor invited the entire kindergarten class over for a "peanut butter and jelly cracker party." And the kids thought it was a real invite, and they told their parents, and some of the PARENTS thought that it was a real invite. Notwithstanding the fact that there was no ACTUAL invite and, also, who in this day and age of tree nut allergies hosts a PEANUT BUTTER-themed party?
We learned of Connor's plans when one of the mothers advised us that her son would be unable to attend, as he had Scouts that day, or some such. Of course, we looked at her with complete noncomprehension. Once we got our bearings about us, we confronted Connor:
Us: You can't just decide to have people over to our house on a random Wednesday.
Connor: Oh, is Wednesday bad for you guys? Because we could move it to Thursday.
So, if you have very small children, or are thinking about having some, forewarned is fair-warned: somewhere between the terrible twos and the tween years, your child will enter the "party planning phase." The "What to Expect" books will not cover this. I'd tell you that that's the only glaring error, but I'd be lying. I'm thinking of writing my own companion book series, "What No One Expects Because, Seriously, WTF?"
Chapter Twelve will cover the party impresario years.