Last Saturday Sena went to a birthday party. The very first birthday party she has been invited to. A little girl was turning five, her younger brother is also in Sena's daycare so Sena was invited. I had met the parents a few times before (they only live a few blocks away) so we decided to go and check it out.
It was expressly written on the invitation: No Presents
When I pull up the the park's rec center I see several parents and little children carrying gift bags.
I swear as I pull into a parking spot. "But it said, 'No damn presents!'" Well, I'm paraphrasing here. I get out of the car and Sena is unusually quiet, staring around, taking it all in. It is a very nice day, the first nice day of spring and there are a lot of people at the park. We go in the Rec Center. For the party, there is an open gym. As I walk down the hallway following signs I can hear the crescendo of preschool screaming.
We walk into the gym and take in the scene. It is like a scene from Braveheart. Except instead of blue-faced screaming Scotsman hurtling spears as they race across the moors, it is three, four, and five year-olds in sparkly barettes and Striderites. I look around; the room is filled with balls and trikes and scooters and every piece of plastic/foam crap that China has ever produced.
Sena's eyes are as big as dinner plates from all the AWESOMENESS.
I realize that this is a genius idea for a party.
I take off Sena's coat and hat and we sit on a chair in the corner for a minute. She is a slow-to-warm up type of kid, which is fine with me, so I don't push her out into the throng. After 5 minutes she wriggles off my lap and starts galloping to the center of the gym. She runs around, picking up toys, grabbing things, putting them back down. She doesn't really interact with the other kids, she is just content to run and run and look at everything. She is the smallest one out there, so for a while I follow carefully behind her in case she gets scared. But she totally ignores me. At one point she has picked up four puppets and is twirling in circles with them, ecstatic over all the new crap she can play with.
Unfortunately, I didn't bring my camera. The video of this would have been hilarious.
I watch as she scampers to a toy box and pulls out a truck. Immediately, a little boy of three grabs it from her and walks away. She stares at him with her mouth open. I say nothing. Then she goes and picks up a little push toy from the floor. The same little boy grabs that too. Her eyes go huge. Then the tears, but I'm already over there. I crouch down and say to the little boy, trying very hard not to scare him shitless. "You don't need to take that from her. She was playing with it." I don't add, "How bout I take something from you? Like your kidney! Rrrwaaaah!"
Fortunately, the little boy's mom also saw this and ran over. "Don't you take that from the baby! She's littler than you."
She apologizes profusely.
"It's okay," I say, "She'll probably do the same thing in a few years."