Thinking back on birthdays, a few stand out, like a family and friends surprise party when I was 13 (tip: do not do this to a 13 year old. Being 13 is awkward enough without a surprise party mixing your friends and elderly relatives.) or the crazy birthdays in my 20s, aided in their craziness by the fact that my birthday is March 17. The best birthday party for me – one to celebrate me, not thrown by me – was in fifth grade.
I still remember the start of the party clearly: I was wearing my birthday gift (not suit, gift, but it was a track suit. Ti track suits were all the rage in fifth grade and for my birthday, my parents bought me a silver blue set, which makes me sound like a 70 year old mobster. I stood on our front steps as all of my friends were dropped off by their moms for our big slumber party. I was surrounded by friends and gifts, but mostly, I felt awesome in my slick track suit.
That night we stayed up late watching Porky’s, a totally inappropriate rated R movie that I somehow convinced my mom to rent. My guess is that she was too busy to check the ratings when we went to the nearest video store the next town over. Now, I cannot imagine showing a rated R movie at a fifth grade party, but at the time, it felt like the movie was age appropriate from my fifth grade perspective, even though it so was not.
Before falling asleep, my friend Karen refused to sleep in a room with a mylar balloon. Okay, she freaked out a bit, saying we’d be sufficated by it in our sleep, which I dismissed as paranoia. Our family room was an open room with a cathedral ceiling and the balloon had a short ribbon, meaning there was no way we were going to get the balloon down before it wanted to come down. In the end, the joke was on me because what Karen said stuck and now I freak out any time my kids want to keep a balloon in their rooms.
The next morning ended with pancakes for all, even though they were not chocolate chip pancakes like at Lizzie from next door’s sleep over. Those pancakes were mind blowing, but we wouldn’t know about them for a few more months. For my party, the endless pancakes coated in syrup and powdered sugar were enough.
I wonder what my kids will remember from their parties. My kids will have tons of photos to prompt their memories, while my fifth grade Ti tracksuit glory only remains in my head – and probably for the best. That look surely wasn’t as awesome as I remember.