Party, Party in the City

What better way to ease into no longer having a cold than to shuttle Jada to not one but two Friday afternoon parties. Here's the blow-by-blow account:

3:40p - Got all my work done. Not always a sure proposition, especially on a Friday, especially when I'm leaving a good two hours before I usually do. I bundle up, mount my steed, and zip over to Jada's after-school program, birthday gift and drinks jammed into my tiny messenger bag.

3:50p - We will be returning here later this afternoon, and mercifully Jada's teachers take the drinks and her backpack, so my load is lightened considerably. Which is more than compensated for by now having to lug Jada in the back seat. How is it possible that my route is uphill both ways?

4:00p - We arrive at the ice skating rink on the Penn campus. Jada immediately spots one of her best friends heading in at the same time. They both rev up as if they were wind-up toys, bopping all over the place and giggling incessantly. Girls.

4:10p - Within minutes, we have traded in our shoes for skates, and Jada excitedly thrusts herself onto the ice. Though she is wobbling everyone, she seems to be having fun, alternating between holding on to a safety cone and my hand.

4:20p - Ugh. In an instant, Jada has gone from carefree to terror-stricken. She needs to go pee, and, without delay, she pees herself. A yellow puddle forms in the middle of the rink, and she crumbles to the ground in tears. I alert a worker and they cordon off the area.

4:30p - Birthday girl's dad is so nice to us. Even though he's got a growing number of guests to welcome, he makes sure we're OK. I insist to Jada that we have to go home, which causes her to howl even harder. I decide to leave Jada at the party and race home to get a change of clothes. Since we only live about a mile and a half away, it takes about as long to exchange my skates for shoes and get all my winter clothes back on as it does to bike home.

4:40p - Waiting for me at home are two packages and a pile of mail. I throw them and my bike inside, dash upstairs, grab a change of clothes and a plastic bag, and just like that I'm off again into the cool late afternoon air.

5:00p - Back in the rink and into the bathroom, I insist to Jada that she go pee before we step back onto the ice. Soon enough, we are back in skates and flailing around. By now, all who we were on the ice with have long come in, and a slew of people who weren't even on the premises when I left are now here.

5:20p - Skates off, we head upstairs for pizza and crafts. I am happily reunited with some old familiar faces - a friend of mine who I used to go to church with, who has brought four of her five kids, and a friend of Jada's from three schools ago, whose mom I hadn't seen in years. There must be 50 people crammed into a tiny little room, pizza and cupcakes and crafts and jackets everywhere. Now this is a birthday party.

5:40p - We must dash off. I give birthday girl's dad an extra handshake of thanks for his empathy and understanding, and happily accept birthday girl's mom's goodie bag. We bundle up and head back to Jada's after-school program, Jada singing lazily to herself and me pumping madly in the thin winter air, thighs burning.

6:00p - Since many of the birthday party attendees are in Jada's after-school program, this party isn't as well-attended, but it's still fun to see familiar faces and chow down. Jada alternates between picking at her food and working on some crafts, while I hunker down in front of a plate of dinner and finally breathe a sigh of relief. It feels good to sit, to be in a warm room, and to have a little moment to myself, even in a room full of kids running rampant.

6:20p - It's time to call it a day. We depart, cycle quietly home, and soon enough, after baths and stories, the kids are down, and I am left to pick through an afternoon's worth of crap in my messenger bag - remnants of crafts, a now torn-up goodie bag, and other miscellany. I make a note to myself - tomorrow, we crack down on the kids and get them to clean everything up.

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