Saturday, September 17, 2005

Markus is 10

It was Markus’s birthday last Thursday. I convinced him to save his birthday money in the bank instead of asking for a gift he would tire of in two weeks or two days. He agreed. Still, he asked me if he could invite his friends over. He was very insistent.

“How many friends are you thinking of inviting?” I asked.

“Three or four,” he said.

Manageable. “OK, we’ll have a simple party on Saturday,” I said. We agreed on the menu – pizza, ice cream, chips, pop, cake, sausages lightly fried in maple syrup and ice cream. As simple as it could get. I made invitation cards on the computer. My friend Esther baked the cake and decorated it nicely like a soccer field with 10 players.

Up to the last minute, Markus was trying to negotiate with me if I could take him and his friends somewhere, like the bowling lanes. He and Gabriel had been thinking it would be very boring just to stay home and play old Nintendo games.

“Boring is what you make it,” I said. “It’s up to you to make it fun or boring. It’s all in your head.” I did not want to spend any more than my budget. Besides, I could only fit four passengers in the car.

I am not a party person. I don’t have the knack for setting up fancy arrangements or thinking of motifs or folding napkins. But I decided to hang multi-coloured buntings I found among our Christmas decors, and I made sure the living and dining rooms were cleaned and vacuumed for our little guests.

At three o’clock this afternoon, Markus’s three friends came one by one. Within a few minutes, they were running around the house, up and down the stairs. Was I glad there were only three! Fortunately, they settled down in front of the TV when Markus set up the Nintendo.

Before they got glued to the TV, I called them around the table. I said a prayer of thanksgiving for Markus and prayed God’s blessings on him and his young friends, thanked God for the food, then everyone started eating. No one cared that the table was not beautifully set up, or that the two extra large pizzas Gino bought from Vancouver had gotten cold. They were busy talking, eating and playing. No one noticed anything else.

Boy, were the kids pumped up. They were  obviously having fun and not bored at all. Markus opened his gifts and scattered everthing on the floor. When his friends left past 5 pm, it was like a tornado hit the living room.

“See, Mom,” Gabriel said. “You shouldn’t have spent time cleaning and vacuuming. It’s more messy now.” Crumbs were all over the floor.

“Well, it’s party,” I said. “I will just vacuum again.”

Markus was very pleased. He gave me a big hug after his friends left.

Happy birthday, Markus!!! It was fun, wasn’t it?



Mr. Buttinski said...

Hi Mrs. Blossoms,

You know what else could be fun for a child's birthday? We once saw the movie "To Sir With Love" just before my daughter's 10th birthday and we thought of having a "formal" sit-down dinner for the party.

This only worked because she also decided to invite a very few select friends and my wife has a lot of sisters who were willing to act as personal "waitresses". Service was almost one-to-one.

We had the table all decked out with the proper table cloth and cloth napkins, wine glasses filled with water, candles, and the whole set of cutlery. It was so funny with everybody trying to act like adults because they were being treated as adults, especially the boys!

The "waitresses" were always hovering around to help - which spoon to use for the soup, which spoon for the desert, etc. At first, the kids were a bit tense but the adults' constant attention and doting made them slowly relax and enjoy. The menu also consisted of easy foods to eat - the usual kids' favorites - soup, lasagna, ice cream and cake for desert.

What the kids didn't realize was that they were getting a lesson on how to behave at the table and how to use the proper utensils.

After that, we left them alone to play their games and do their own thing in the basement. Up to now, I still hear them talk from time to time about that "party".

lerryblossoms said...

hi mr. b,
i can't remember watching that film, but i remember being treated a few yrs ago to this kind of "formal party" as one of the youth advisers in our church. had all the works, like you described. the only difference was that the youths were serving.

Mr. Buttinski said...

Hi Mrs. Blossoms,

I forgot I am SO MUCH OLDER than you are! :) :) In the movie "To Sir With Love", the teacher, played by Sidney Poitier, had to deal with a rowdy class of teen-agers. The solution he came up with was to have everybody treat each other as adults. For an example, he addressed everyone as a "Mr." or a "Miss" and expected everyone else to do the same.

We had fun treating the kids at the party as grown-ups and they responded positively to the experience. Even on other occasions, my kids would remark to me how much they appreciate when my friends would talk to them as adults and not condescendingly. Just a simple "How are you?" and engaging them in a real conversation mean so much to the young ones.

Because of that lesson, I have always tried to treat young people as the intelligent individuals that they are.