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Last week I planned a back-to-school party with tons of supplies for the girls, something to show them that I recognize how hard they’ve worked to transition into new grades and classes and routines. I invited Lola and Gigi, the usual cast of girls who are in and out of this house, and Marlo’s new friend Jonah, The Magical Miracle Worker. Jonah’s mother Kelsey gladly accepted the request along with Jonah’s two-year-old little sister, but when I told Marlo that they were coming I had to shove her eyes back into their sockets because they had popped out and rolled onto the floor.
“I CANNOT SHOW JONAH MY ROOM,” she shout whispered. “HE WILL SEE THE ALL THE PINK AND THROW UP.”
She continued to be a little nervous about it right up until they knocked on the door. She acted shy for all of three seconds and then took him by the hand and announced, “Come with me. I need to show you everything.”
She then proceeded to give him a tour of the house complete with a detailed oral history, and apparently they snuck off and got married while doing so. Phew! That’s a wedding I don’t have to pay for! Sure, they’re young and know nothing whatsoever about balancing a checkbook or how to read words. But those are just minor details.
I’d set out some hors d’oeuvres on a tablecloth with dinner plates from Target for all the guests including our frequent babysitter Kelli: crackers, pretzels and more crackers. What? You make your kids tiny, handmade cheese sandwiches and line stalks of celery with a dip you made from scratch? I admire you and your handiwork. Me? I prefer things that I can pour directly out of a box because laziness.
Marlo demanded to sit next to her husband while everyone dined on snacks, and when she placed the festive cat ears on top of his head he resisted.
He explained, “My doctor said I’m not allowed to wear anything but dog ears. No cat ears.”
That’s quite a medical condition, Jonah. I’d be afraid to google that and see pictures of the side effects. Perhaps photos of children involuntarily mewing? Videos of kids chasing lasers? Children bopping other children on the nose?
After snacks we headed outside for the main event in the front yard that was being set in place by our resident nature enthusiast Dane:
Yes, he’s using very expensive and technical repelling equipment to hang a piñata from a tree. Couldn’t he just tie it with some string to a low-hanging branch? Let’s just say that this is Dane’s interpretation of tiny, handmade cheese sandwiches. I asked him to hang a piñata and HE WAS GOING TO HANG THAT PIÑATA. I suggest that you do not try this at home unless, like him, you are actually getting a Bachelor of Science in Parks, Recreation and Tourism.
It took a bit of wrangling to hang it from the right branch, and Marlo, very eager to take out her attitude on that box, cupped her hands around her mouth and screamed up toward the tree, “Dane! You can do this! I believe in you!”
Well, how sweet was that? And coming from someone who routinely walks into walls, he could certainly trust in her expertise.
She then turned around to everyone and yelled, “I am going to swack that thing so hard!”
“Wait,” said Kelli scratching her head. “Is that a word? Swack? Swack?”
“Of course it is,” I blurted. “Swack. It’s when you swing at something really hard.” I actually believed the words coming out of my mouth.
Kelsey let out a little giggle. “I think maybe she’s combining ‘swing’ and ‘whack’ into one word?”
My face flushed immediately. She was right. You guys, how many times have I made the College of Humanities at Brigham Young University so proud? SO MANY TIMES.
Marlo was first in line to have a swack at the piñata, and because I don’t own a bat we had to find another weapon. You’d think that I’d have gone out and bought a bat after Coco interrupted some deranged teen trying to break into my garage. A bat, perhaps a bow and arrow, maybe an uzi. Definitely a tank that I’d park next to the mailbox. But I haven’t procured any of those things, so if I ever see that teen again I will swack him so hard on the wrist with a ruler.
We searched and searched for a large stick when suddenly Tyrant walked out with the long handle that attaches to the pooper scooper. I get the distinct feeling that my Southern heritage and approach to life is slowly rubbing off on him. The next time he throws a party I bet he serves pretzels in a cereal bowl.
Marlo took blind aim at the piñata and swacked it so hard the first time that she broke the pooper scooper handle in half. I am not even kidding:
No big deal, it was still long enough to serve its purpose, and all the kids took turns swacking at it. If I type that word enough times I just know that it will find its way into the dictionary. AND THEN I WILL BE RIGHT.
When it came time for Marlo to have another turn, she gripped that broken pooper scooper handle, perched her body like a professional baseball player and swacked the piñata so hard that she punched a hole in the cardboard. She also swacked it so hard that she broke the pooper scooper handle in half YET AGAIN:
I looked at Kelli who has shared in enduring Marlo’s complaints about everything being so hard, everything like having to walk or having to lift her fork to her mouth, and she looked at me.
“Maybe I should bring this up next time she says her backpack is too heavy,” Kelli said. I told her I’d keep the broken pieces in a box and she could just point at it.
After a few more swacks from the other kids the candy went flying, and everyone scrambled and assembled collections of brightly wrapped sugar.
I let them all indulge in a few pieces of candy, but not too many because the main course was up next. When preparing for this little get together I gave both my kids credit for working so hard on homework and keeping track of lunch boxes and folders and everything that needs a parent’s signature. And by “giving them credit” I mean “I bought them an ice cream cake.”
Once again Marlo’s eyeballs plopped out of her skull.
“IMAGINE NOT HAVING TO EAT DINNER! IMAGINE NOT HAVING TO EAT DINNER!” she squealed. Yep! That’s right. Dessert that does not require eating anything containing nutritional value beforehand. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that when she’s an adult and in charge of her own meals, she will have the opportunity to do this every single day.
The party settled down as everyone had cake and filtered out and around the house to eat candy. Kids talked about school and video games, and the adults exchanged stories about potty training and all the food containing nutritional value that the kids refuse to eat. Oh, and those heavy, awful backpacks that are so hard to carry around. Good thing we have a broken pooper scooper handle to keep that in check.
You’ll never guess what Marlo slept with that night and carried around for two straight days.
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