Mardi Gras or Birthday Bash?


The question is this: what’s wilder – Mardi Gras or my son’s ninth birthday party at the bowling alley? I am here to contend that my son’s party wins. If you’ve been to Mardi Gras, maybe you got some fun-colored beads. Maybe you danced all night in the streets. Maybe you sang one too many renditions of “Margaritaville” and woke up with a tattoo that said “Pat” on your butt, only you couldn’t remember who “Pat” was, or is, or if Pat even exists on planet earth. But I bet you didn’t have a bowling ball dropped on your foot by a third grader.

This year we decided to celebrate the heart-child’s birthday by partying at the bowling alley. Every birthday is a victory over his CHD, and apparently nothing says “in your face!” to CHD quite like a bunch of third graders annihilating pizza, cake, popcorn and ice cream cups all over a bowling alley. When planning the party, we thought it would be a great idea to invite 5 of Corey’s classmates to take over one lane. Then, to add to the fun, we thought we’d invite some of Mason’s friends and give a second lane to the younger kids. We had 13 kids total, ranging in age from 2 to 9. I don’t know where my brain was when planning this party. Possibly in my butt under that Pat tattoo.

Everybody who was invited attended. The party started out fine. Parents dropped off their children, said goodbye, and initially the kids all concentrated on getting their bowling shoes on and starting their games. The big boys were pretty competitive to start, trying to out-do each other and actually knock down the most pins. You know, the actual point of bowling. But then two things happened. First, one of the boys demonstrated his Olympic-caliber bowling skills by scoring two strikes right out of the gate, which deflated the rest of them. Second, another group of kids showed up for a birthday party in the two lanes right next to ours. And they were girls. Third-grade girls. What do you think happens when a bunch of third-grade girls show up to bowl right next to a bunch of third-grade boys?

Well I’m going to tell you. The girls totally ignored the boys. They were fully intent on setting up their game and getting down to business. So the boys decided to step up their game. This started with the boys pulling their shirtsleeves up and comparing the size of their muscles, loudly. Did that get the girl’s attention? Uh, no. So they stepped up their game again and started a wrestling match right in the middle of the lane. Excellent. Wrestle Mania meets Third Grade Bowling Party. And guess what? None of the girls even glanced in their direction. In a last ditch attempt to get the girls to look his way, one of the boys decided a good place to sit would be on top of the ball return. Which of course inspired other boys to give it a try too.

Meanwhile, on the lane with the younger kids, people were tripping and falling, getting their fingers pinched, complaining “he stole my ball!”, yelling for more pizza, and just generally trying to kill themselves and everyone around them. Again, really, what the hell was I thinking?

We somehow managed to break up the wrestling match between the older boys, get everybody off the ball return, and get everybody back into the actual bowling game. At which point one of the younger kids rolled a ball down the lane with enough force to push a feather about two inches, and guess what? The ball stopped dead in the middle of the lane. To solve this problem, one of the other kids decided to throw another ball down the lane. Very helpful. So instead of one stopped ball in the lane, we had two stopped balls in the lane. When I looked back there was a ball stuck in the gutter. This feat defies all known laws of physics, because the bumpers were up, making it impossible for the balls to even go into the gutters. Right.

Then one of older boys, not to be outdone by the antics of the younger kids, managed to pitch a ball across the lanes, over the bumpers, and into the middle of the girl’s lane. I don’t know if this was a Hail Mary to get the girls to look at him or if it was an honest mistake. Either way, I hid my face in my hands to cover up the burning red embarrassment on my cheeks. The grandmother of one of the girls shot me the look of death that only old ladies can master – you know the one. You’ve seen it. It’s scary. So I did what any well-adjusted woman would do in this situation. I ran and hid in the bathroom until the balls were all off the lanes. “Um, I just have to wash this pizza sauce off my hands. Be right back!”

By the time it was over the place looked like a war zone and my cheeks hurt like hell from nailing a smile on my face for two hours. But really, despite the insanity, I will say that it was worth it. Because Corey had a blast at his party, and in the end, what else really matters?