Now I know why people have their children's birthday parties at places other than home.
Two hours of mayhem, with breaks for cake and one game which required kids to be silent. Because it was all outside, and because the only food we served was cake and juice, there wasn't much mess to clean up, but I was not prepared for the astronomical levels of frenzied energy that seven little boys with pool-noodle lightsabers can generate. After the party, I was (and continue to be) exhausted.
One possible factor other than the sheer physical toll of herding eight shouting seven-year-olds around the house was TZ-related stress: TZ missed a lot of sleep last night, played a 5-inning baseball game before the party, and skipped lunch. Add to this the fact that he is possibly even a bigger control-freak than I am, with fantasies of being both the director and the star of the show. Mix in his nutty little friends and their lightsabers, et voila: meltdown. Twice. Kids were actually going over and trying to convince him to be a part of his own birthday party. What does one do in such a situation? The party was built around games and things that sort of required his participation, like cake. We couldn't start the cake process or the final activity without him, but I couldn't keep the kids waiting indefinitely, either. Luckily, only a couple of kids knew (at least at first) that he was hiding in the closet before the cake, and he came out before the other kids got too suspicious. The second time it was a little more public, but we finally managed to move on.
On the Bright Side (see cake paragraph, below), the party was fun for everyone, I think. The boys ran around and around and around the house, waving and bopping each other with their lightsabers and shouting like mad. I would have abandoned my down-to-the-minute plans and let them just play forever if I hadn't been afraid they'd hurt themselves in the construction debris behind the house. What with the rusty nails, crumbling dirt walls, and splintering lumber, it's not the safest place to play unsupervised. Also, I had some cool activities planned. Down to the minute.
The store-bought Star Wars cake was a hit; once the candles were out, kids clamored for a piece of the Dark Side or the "Bright Side" as they kept calling it--the Dark Side being the side on which the Darth Vader figurine stood, with the Bright Side being Luke Skywalker's side. My favorite kid quote: one boy, eating a glop of red trim frosting, said, "I love these little balls of...sugar." And I have to say that not having to design, bake, decorate, fix mistakes, and clean up after a homemade cake was pretty sweet.
My favorite part (and the kids', I'm sure) was the Sith fighters (my great friend Kristin from WHS where I used to teach, and two of her former students). Great, and great with child--what a hero. She dressed up and allowed those little boys to pummel her with their lightsabers. She had her own weapon, but they were merciless. The former students I hired for $25 each plus cake, and they gamely lost duel after duel to TZ and his friends. My favoritest part was that they fought each other when they weren't fighting the kids.