Party Crashers

Whenever I am asked, “What is your most embarrassing moment as a parent?” without fail, one incident always comes flooding back. It was September 2, 2005; my older boys were 5 and 3 1/2. Oh yes, I still remember the exact date. You would too, if this had happened to you. That is when I developed an intense… aversion to children’s birthday parties, held in public places.

The kids were off from school for Labor Day weekend so my neighbor and I took our kids to an indoor playground/moon bounce place. The kids were having a BLAST – running, jumping and playing. Which I loved, because it would tire them out, bwa ha ha! After a few minutes, I realized that I hadn’t seen my 2 boys in a few minutes. Just as I started to look for them, my friend’s daughter (who was also 3 1/2) ran over to me and said, “Lauren! Your boys are over there with the birthday party and they are playing with the cake! ” I shrieked, “WHAT?!” I hadn’t realized there was a birthday party going on at the same time but how would they get involved with the party?? I ran toward where she was pointing and as I rounded the corner, I could hear them happily saying, “Vroom, vroom! Beep, beep, beep! Errrr!”

They had found a construction truck themed cake and … you may need to sit down for this… were playing with the construction trucks ON TOP OF THE CAKE. They had smeared the icing, with the tires of the trucks, all over the cake; including where it said “Happy Birthday _______”. (I can’t remember the kid’s name – I think it may be part of the attempting-to-block-it-out process.) As I looked at the cake that was all but destroyed, I wanted to run away! I wanted to pretend these weren’t my kids! Of course that wasn’t an option, so I freaked out at my kids, sat them on a bench and found the parents from the party. Red-faced and on the verge of tears, I groveled, apologized, etc. By this time, my boys were crying over what they had done and apologized as well… the parents were understandably upset but incredibly gracious. I begged them to let me run to the store and replace the cake but they kindly refused. Before leaving, I found the owner of the moon bounce place, explained what happened and gave him all the cash I had, to put toward the party.

I completely avoided going back to that place for more than a year – can a person get Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from something like this? If so, I had it. When our kids were invited to a friend’s birthday party there, I had no choice but to return to the scene of the crime. Upon arriving, I realized that the owner had redesigned the layout of his indoor play place, and had completely sectioned off an area for birthday parties so that it unavailable to the general public. This, was no doubt, because of my children.

People who know this story, including my friend who was there to witness it, assure me that someday I will be able to laugh about it. It has been over 7 years and I am still traumatized. I had never been so mortified in MY ENTIRE LIFE. And I’ve had some really embarrassing moments! I’d love to know, if this had happened to you, would you be able to laugh about it? Or would you be like me and, develop a nervous twitch every time your kid gets an invitation to a birthday party?