She stomps into the backyard with her son Jeremy and demands, “Is this a drop-off party?” I glance at my 6-year-old birthday boy Tucker cavorting with his friends on the sport court, more pals painting art projects, and yet more kids running around the backyard.
She heaves a frustrated sigh, obviously displeased that she cannot just dump her child and split. I smile cheerfully and introduce myself, since it’s the first time I’m meeting Jeremy’s mom, Tammi. She says, “I thought this was a drop-off party.”
OK, Tammi, let it go.
“Oh, you’ll have fun. You probably know some of the other parents from first grade. Besides, it helps to have adults around with so much going on.”
She gives me a look. A hard look. A look that says, “Hey, your party invitation’s an implicit contract for you to babysit my kid for three hours while I get a mani-pedi.”
She declines my offer of lemonade and clomps off, whipping out her cell phone.
When the other parents helped with the art project, she’s on her cell. When the other parents help clean up, she’s on her cell. I’m pretty sure if a pack of wild Komodo dragons ran rampant through the yard, she’d be on her cell—standing on a lawn chair.
I call everyone in for dinner, a sumptuous homemade Mexican feast of enchiladas, tacos, and quesadillas.
Tammi walks in and says, “I didn’t know you were having dinner. We already have dinner plans tonight.” She frowns. “You really should have put something on your invitation about this.” I smile cheerfully (through clenched teeth). “But I did! You know, the part that said: ‘Come enjoy our delicious Mexican fiesta. After running and playing, you’ll need a siesta!’”
She gives me a look. A pitying look. A look that says, “Poetry does not belong on a party invitation.”
“We have to leave now. We have plans.”
I smile cheerfully (hallelujah) and say, “OK, be sure to get Jeremy a party favor before you go.”
She doesn’t move. “Jeremy wants to have cake before he goes.”
“Oh. We’re planning to do that at the end of the party.”
My husband David says, “Oh, we can do the cake now if you have to leave.”
I shoot him a look. A hard look. A look that says, “Don’t you dare accommodate this woman!”
But he is already looking for a large knife.
I turn to Tammi and say soothingly, “If we do the cake now, people will think it’s time to leave. I’m sure you understand.”
She folds her arms. “Jeremy really wants cake.”
Now I am looking for a large knife.
David says, “We could just cut off a little piece for him now and bring out the cake to sing Happy Birthday later.” (Since when is he the gracious host?)
“But it’s an ice cream cake and it isn’t thawed. It’s still frozen solid.” I’m determined to stand my ground, but David is oblivious to my frustration. In fact, he accepts this task as though it were a “Survivor TV show” challenge of strength and ingenuity!
After several attempts with a butcher knife, an ice pick, and finally an electric carving knife, he manages to hack away a chunk of ice cream cake for little Jeremy who ultimately declares, “I don’t like chocolate chip.”