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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
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« A brief account of the festivities. | Main | Watch out, she’s angry. »
Thursday
Oct052006

Guess who's almost four?

Last weekend, in addition to braving the Swedish Hellscape, we went to Party City to buy birthday crap for Henry. I know! We’re officially suburban. Except we also went there the year before. When you need to buy party paraphernalia for the small and easily impressed, the City of Parties is the swift, efficient, terrible option.

And we bought a pinata. I was opposed—is it not a bad idea to arm the children? And then once they’ve dealt many swift and violent blows, to reward them with a mountain of candy? It seems like a poor message—but Husband insisted, and as in all things, I surrendered. So now we have an empty Darth Vader head waiting in our closet, aching to be filled with sugary delights. Soon we will satisfy the Head, only to watch it get split in twain by crazed preschoolers.

Other than the Head, our plans for “Four! The Party” involve watching chocolate-coated children run shrieking about the room as the adults take cover and worry about the future of our already troubled nation. Also there will be Pin the Tail on the Donkey. Pray for us.

Reader Comments (67)

I did my own post about pinatas . . .http://betweendiapersanddishes.blogspot.com/2006/08/imagine-birthday.html
October 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle
Yay! 4! I shall pray for you. When do you have to start doing this birthday thing? I was hoping I could put it off for a long, long time. Are they cognizant of this social expectation at 4 or are you just a better person than I am and so you give your child happiness of your own free will? Darth Vader head bashing followed by candy. That's something he will cherish for a lifetime.
October 5, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterozma
There will be a pinata, but will there be lots of guys?
October 5, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterzhanae
Lord, hear our prayers.
October 5, 2006 | Unregistered Commentercapello
Ooooh! Here's an idea if you're really concerned about the hopped up on sugar, spazapalooza effect:

Fill the Vader Head with those bland basil leaves you're growing.

So, now I'm curious. Do four year olds have the WTF look yet?

October 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMike
You DO know to draw a line that all party goers must stand behind so they don't get a concussion while the whacker flails wildly at the pinata, don't you? And it doesn't hurt to whack it a little before the party just to make things go faster. And don't forget the gin and tonic!
October 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAnne Glamore
I ditto the commenters who suggested the string-pull pinatas and diluting the sugar loot with little trinket things. And also, ditto on weakening it beforehand. Pinatas are supposed to be made out of delicate paper mache, and those party city jobs are made out of concrete.Also - I suggest keeping a bit of the loot in a bag and tossing it to the kids who are on the outside fringe of the feeding frenzy. That way you can kind of even things out if some are better gatherers than others.
October 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterHoo
Will there be any older kids at the party? My nephew has had a pinata for 3 years now (just turned 5) and each year we've let the kids do a few turns and then finally had to let my stepkids (12 & 13) rip into it. The younger kids couldn't get it open.

We've learned to get the pinatas that have the strings that you pull in order to get them open. Kids take turns pulling one string until someone hits the magic string.

Good luck!
October 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJulie
OK - true story - a few years ago my friends daughter was turning 2 - so of course they had a big blow out party -her birthday being in June just inivted a big backyard bbq. So, after a goodly amount of drinking time in for the adults they decide to pull out the (DA DA DA ..DA!!!) PINATA!! So everyone gathers in the front yard as her hubby straps this sucker to a tree for smashing by a bunch of sugard up kids :D So the first kid smashes at it.nothing - the second kids smashes.nothing - the third kid smashes.nothing - you see where this is going ... after a very uncomfortable few minutes of watching these kids beat Dora to a pulp... someone finally breaks it open... A.N.D....... NOTHING!

That's when things turned ugly...
October 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMe
OK - true story - a few years ago my friends daughter was turning 2 - so of course they had a big blow out party -her birthday being in June just inivted a big backyard bbq. So, after a goodly amount of drinking time in for the adults they decide to pull out the (DA DA DA ..DA!!!) PINATA!! So everyone gathers in the front yard as her hubby straps this sucker to a tree for smashing by a bunch of sugard up kids :D So the first kid smashes at it.nothing - the second kids smashes.nothing - the third kid smashes.nothing - you see where this is going ... after a very uncomfortable few minutes of watching these kids beat Dora to a pulp... someone finally breaks it open... A.N.D....... NOTHING!

They didn't realize they had to actually fill the thing with candy...

That's when things turned ugly...
October 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMe
Certainly I'll pray. There is perhaps nothing on earth more frightening than witnessing throngs of crazed kidlets--one of whom will be wearing a blindfold and wielding a big stick--gather around a defenseless something-or-other for the sole purpose of beating it into submission. It strikes fear in the hearts of many a brave soul.

My advice: Stand clear of the kid with the stick.
October 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterPlanet Mom
I'll add my voice to the chorus that says:1. An adult will need to hit the pinata to open it. Even the adult might have trouble.2. Stand back. Way back. Have adults explain this to assembled children every .000006 seconds.3. Put dollar store goodies in with the candy. Every parent and child will thank you. (Honestly, the kids liking getting the trinkets.)

We had a pinata at our children's birthday party this year and--it poured rain. So, we hit the pinata in the living room. It was insane, but no one was injured and nothing broke. I opted for a sun (that's obviously why it rained) because it seemed too weird to give children a stick and ask them to hit a creature or person.

October 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMJ
Of course, the surrendered wife book works. Who wouldn't like to have someone who agreed with every decision they made? Who wouldn't love to be in complete control?

Me? I'm looking for the surrendered husband.
October 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMJ
I have a brilliant suggestion. I know, you are saying "Another one? Where does your brilliance end....?"

Dip The Head in chocolate, and instead of The Crazed Preschoolers bashing it to smithereens, let them lick it to it's ultimate death. Licking is much less violent than beating the bajezuz out of it.
October 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJeff in MD
That book is like Dr. Laura's "The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands", only it appears to require that you also surrender your spine. Furthermore, who forgot to send me the memo that explained how "surrendered" become an ajective?
October 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterRobin in San Jose
We had the pull-the-strings pinata. After about 2 of the 4s took their turn, one big sister grabbed almost the whole remaining lot of 627 strings and yanked them all out. To her mothers ever loving' chagrin, but haha, the thing didn't open. Which left the birthday boy standing underneath one strand and voila, with a little help from mom, open it came. We did the candy/toy combo and I did it in 2 parts, the good stuff (chocolate, sweettarts, toys, and other candy I actually deem edible) for the first round, and then all the atomic fireballs and laffy taffy (what's so laffable about a food that can glue your mouth shut?) tossed on top when the bigger kids smelled the blood in the water and swam up to feed. Worked out great! Welcome to the 'burbs! I'm still getting used to the fact that I live in NYC but in an outer-enuf boro that I need to use my car like a suburbanite. Weird.
October 5, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterjanny226
We did a piñata for my daughter's fourth. We encouraged a "jungle animal" theme so we could get an elephant. It was totally worth it … Not for the looks of glee on all those four-year-old faces … it was the looks of glee on all the forty-something [Seattle liberal] faces that was priceless. Piñata or effigy? It's a fine line...
October 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterLisa
Ouch! I'd forgotten about the Surrendered thing... now it's taking up valuable space in my brain again!

I didn't know about the pinata rule. Damn.
October 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterH
That sounds a lot like my birthday parties as a kid. We had pin the tail on the donkey and my mom would make a pinata every year to go with whatever the theme was. Ah... the suburbs. Sometimes I miss them. (I did not just say that)
October 5, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterkate
Happy birthday, Henry!!!!

One time I was watching America's Funniest Videos (ahem, there was once a time when i did not have cable) and the host guy deadpanned to the camera: "I can't believe after 20 years of AFV people still have pinatas at parties." Then they let loose a montage of excruciating (and yes, funny) pinata bloopers. So I will pray for you. And your guests.

Oh, and also, I have been to parties in the city with pinatas. The suburbs cannot claim them. Well, it was just one. And, okay, it was a "Sin-ata" stuffed with sex toys and little glassine baggies, but still!
October 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterLetterB
A great place to get Plastic Crap to dilute the pinata candy is Oreintal Trading Co. They will send you huge bags of Plastic Crap that are especially crappy, and as a preschool teacher and parent, I have found that the crappier the crap, the more the kids will like it. Have fun!
October 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMiamiMommy
So here's a tip for kids' birthdayparties, if ever there were. Listen up, it's a goodie...

Have them play all the games, etc. and open the pressies and then... just 10 minutes before the parents are due to arrive to take away the kids, and only then... release the cake and candy.

Wired kids, but not your problem.

wiredness of kids = (no. of kids x consumption of sugar and pop) to the power 8

fewer kids = much less total wiredness

If you reinforce the pinata with steel, you can use it to entertain them for the entire 2 hours of the party and won't even have to hire the clown. Even if you arm them right at the beginning, it will still take 2 hours for the kids to get to the treats. They are entertained, you sit back with a nice scotch (Highland Park is my personal recommendation), they don't get the candy till home time.
October 6, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterRLJ
Oooh, how fun. Yes, it might just be a mess, but it sounds like fun too.

And I just hosted the triple-crown of playdates -- fingerpainting, playing outside in the dirt, AND green jello!

Good luck to you!
October 6, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterWhymommy
Just be prepared for the one kid who cries on poor Darth Vadar's behalf, apparently traumatized for life. Maybe it's just here. We raise bleeding hearts early on in the NW. Still I question the great benefit of trying to convince the softie that is good to beat the crap out of things...we will pray. Fast?
October 6, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterLisa Milton
"Four! The Party" made me laugh out loud. I hope he has a great birthday.
October 6, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterLeslie

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