A couple of posts back, I promised a reflection on Joy's sixth birthday party, a gathering that took place on May 23.
We've fallen into something of a pattern for these birthday parties, inviting families from church and the neighborhood and school, with kids both Joy's age and Rose's age.
The weather cooperated for playing out in the backyard, unlike last year (which was rainy and cold, to the point that we barely got out onto the deck). It was unusually warm, summery warm! Almost too warm for the bouncy castle, which heats up fast in the sun.
We had a fine turnout, and the kids were soon running all over the back yard and playing, and riding Joy's new and old trikes up and down the driveway.
The only one who wasn't having much fun... was Joy. She tolerated it OK, but all she really wanted to do was play with her mylar balloon and watch her videos.
Even the present-opening wasn't a thrill. Oh, she tolerated that too, and pulled on the paper and got them open. But when we looked at the photos JoyDad had taken of that part of the party, there wasn't a single smile on her face. (Though the presents were well-chosen and she's been playing happily with them since.)
Even our own big present, the big kid tricycle, we managed to bungle somewhat. After the party-preparations were in place but before the guests arrived, we decided it would be a good moment for the tricycle presentation. So we all trooped out the back door and I went to the back of the garage where the trike was hidden, to bring it out and surprise her as she got to the driveway.
Unfortunately, the family trooping out to the garage made Joy think she was going to get a car ride, something she loves to do. She was terribly disappointed that no car ride was forthcoming, and wouldn't even look at the trike as she expressed her displeasure.
Basically, the party worked for everyone but the person it was ostensibly celebrating. Not that it was a train wreck, it just wasn't much fun for our six-year-old.
Next year I hope to do better. One thought would be a series of birthday playdates, such that we could involve the friends but make it less a crowd situation. (And there will be new people in the circle; we'll need to work explicitly on involving kindergarten classmates, I think.) Another thought would be a pool party at a local motel, something that was a good success for some friends of ours a couple of years ago.
It's good to see possibilities for learning and growth, for Joy's parents as well as for Joy. Happy birthday, Joy, and here's to the upcoming year!