this is the story of how we came to be at a birthday party last saturday.
maya took the leisurely approach to turning one by napping through the first hour of the festivities. oliver put on his swimsuit and sidled up to the edge of the pool where there was a daunting number of girls splashing about and keeping him psychologically at bay. he stood quietly, wearing a wide smile and a lack of words. i urged him to test out the water with his toes. after awhile, i noticed that he had finally begun his slow descent into the girl-infested waters. not that he's afraid of girls or anything. people just really get a kick out of implying it's frightening for a male to confront a gaggle of females. but oliver. he spends his mornings being sucked straight into the arms of little girls whenever i drop him at his classroom door. they mother-hen that boy beyond any kind of gender-biased fear.
i sat in a deck chair under an umbrella with violet on my lap, a glass of wine in my hand, and a woman who sounded to be originally from an eastern block country to my left. we embraced a minimum of movement in dueling attempts at staving off the heat. you see, we might only be halfway through spring, but texas knows no seasonal boundaries when it comes to pouring the heat from its cosmic pitcher. and its hand is growing heavy these recent days.
i watched oliver in his borrowed life jacket as he tried to engage the other children. i provided advice when his methods turned to kicking water in their faces.
i moved on to a beer and at some mystical point, all the menfolk began assembling mysteriously out on the back lawn to engage in a game of croquet. it was kind of weird, that traditional men-over-here, women-over-there separation that i'm always hearing about from decades past and lands unvisited. it didn't even occur to me until after the party to be offended that no one had extended me an invitation. i mean, i can monitor oliver's water goings-on from the back of the pool just as well as the front of the pool.
my little, disgruntled, feminist, violet, insisted rather violently that she stay by daddy's side the entire game. my attempts at dislodging her before daddy had a chance to misstep and club her with a mallot during his backswing were met with behavior that made me wonder if newcomers to the party thought i wasn't even her mother. i might as well have been a stranger generating an amber alert.
so, whatever. i let her do what she must. i was engaging the beginning of a wine and beer high and so i found myself a spot on the foot of a chaise lounge and under an umbrella and embraced that feeling of floating about in my cooling pool of sentimentality. i kept a half-smile on my face as an indicator of yes! i am having a good time at the pool party! i am okay! and because i was totally reliving memories of playing those ridiculously creative childhood games.
i heard anna announce, "oliver's a sting ray. but he's a friend to the frogs."
and my smile began to hurt with its intensity. sharks chased fish to floating islands. i marveled at the beauty of my children. their innocence. their smooth skin. their tiny limbs and large heads. i was wafting helplessly, feeling like i was floating on my back with my face to the sun. i suppose there was some vitamin D injection going on in there as well to push me along.
brian eventually finished up his manly game and i took violet in to play with balloons and every stuffed animal she was able to dig out of that house. after a couple of hours, oliver was finally lured from the water and settled in at a breakfast nook table with small people and a fox-faced paper plate of chips, salsa, and corn on the cob. we could never figure out if he actually liked the corn, or if he liked the corn because jenny said everyone who finished their dinner could have a cupcake.
she smartly led them all outside to eat their reward. gypsy, the dog, made fast friends with oliver and worked in a lick to one of his eating hands. it was a strain for her to not eat the growing mess straight from his face.
we left shortly after, realizing on our way home that we had not made a proper fuss of happy birthdaying the baby on our frazzled way out. violet was angry as she had finally settled in and made herself at home. we had found her way back in anna's room... making friends with the animals. in our defense, it was the most non-birthday-centered birthday party i'd ever been to. there weren't candles and presents exploding out of the four corners or people singing festive songs. just a pleasant pool party and plates of texas caviar and pasta salad. and grape tomatoes for little girls.
i'd give you a photo or two here, but this computer has grown quite angry regarding the amount of media i refuse to delete from it and i'm afraid to upload anything else.