Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Big Wave

The Tsunami in my back yard

I’m one of those delusional moms who think it’s much more special to have birthday parties at home rather than at one of the many over-crowded, over-priced, germ-laden, impersonal birthday “factories.” I’m not necessarily correct in this assumption; remember I began the sentence by referring to myself as ‘delusional.’
          Parties at the house never end well for anybody. First, if it rains you have kids running from outside to inside traipsing mud everywhere. Second, there’s a high likelihood that the parents will stay, and then you have to worry what to feed them, too. Third, it leaves the door open for additional people to show up without warning--siblings, cousins, neighbors, strangers walking by.
“After all,” people will whisper, “it’s only a house party—it’s not like they’re paying for extra people.”
Fourth something will get broken—one of the new gifts, your t.v., couch, refrigerator, lamp…you name it. Fifth, something will get broken—arm, ankle, wrist, finger, your nerves…you name it.  Sixth, your mother will be the Greek Chorus behind your shoulder continually refraining, “You must be crazy having all these people in your house! And did you see what those kids did to your living room?” Seventh, tell me when to stop because I can keep on going!
          So, this year when Jack suggested he take some of his friends to the movies for his eighth birthday you would think I would have hopped on that train. But no. Something possessed me to interject, “But honey, why don’t we have it at the house again so you can invite your whole class and no one will be left out?”  Last year we had rented a humongous water slide for the back yard. I had milked the pirate theme for all it was worth the previous four years so I had to come up with a new theme. And what kid wouldn’t love a water slide? And boy did they love it! They stayed on that slide for four hours straight getting off only to eat cake and go home. Perfect!
          This year the slide company offered me an extra discount if I agreed to be the first customer to test their new “The Big Wave” slide. Did somebody say discount? I jumped on it.
           So, on the morning August 26th “The Big Wave” arrived and was inflated in my backyard. It was the size of a small skyscraper. I learned that “The Big Wave” referred to the bottom of the slide that curved like the foot of Santa’s sleigh. The science behind it was that the slickness of the water increased the velocity of the slider’s descent, and as their body hydroplaned up the ramp, or wave, they were briefly propelled into the air. To give you a visual, a child would slide and the next thing you’d see was eight-year old after eight-year old careening 10 feet into the air ready to give you an in-the-sky high-five before gravity threw them back to earth.   
          Now, eight-year olds being fearless eight-year olds, no one waited patiently—how could they? They were strung out on sugar! So, there were the expected body checks, head bangings, belly crashes, his foot in my eye, his elbow in my chest, and double-trouble suspension which is best described as being the closest thing that has ever sent my husband, Jim, into coronary distress.
Feeling the onset of a migraine, I escaped to the sanctuary of my mini-van, opened the first aid kit where I keep my stash of Motrin, and pack of cigarettes. As I washed the pain relieving pills down with the three day old coffee sitting in the cup holder, I lit a crushed cigarette and inhaled only to be interrupted by Jim banging on the window.
Apparently, the triple-boy-backflip caused Jim to temporarily close The Big Wave slide. Like Chief Brody in “JAWS” he told me he scared everyone off the slide, but instead of yelling “Shark” he ordered, “Everyone inside for a time-out!” I ran from the car to the porch windows where I could see twenty-something dripping wet, over-sugared, water-pistol packing eight-year olds doing backflips off my couch and riding the dog like a horse while engaging in a water pistol war. When I knocked on the window to get their attention they all gave me the big wave and laughed. 

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