Birthday parties are often one of the more traumatic things a child can endure. You have the out-of-tune singing of "Happy Birthday" by a chorus of rank amateurs, the buzz of a sugar high from the birthday cake, the breaking of new toys, the administration of ceremonial spankings (the one to grow on always hurts the worst) and the realization you’re another year closer to being an adult.
Birthday parties were always a dumpster fire when I was a child. I suspect my parents dreaded the annual event since I would always turn into a spoiled brat anytime there was a house full of kids. It would happen every time. I would get mad about something during the party and start pitching a fit in front of everyone. I was would spoil my own party, sending everyone home on a downer as I burst into tears, usually because I didn’t want to share one of my new toys. Hey, I was an only child and that’s what only children do.
Despite my angst, we threw a big party for my youngest son Henry this past weekend for his 11th birthday. I mean, come on, what kind of parent doesn’t throw his kid a birthday party? And, I should point out he isn’t nearly as big of a brat as I was, although he does have an aversion of having "Happy Birthday" sung to him. However, being a traditionalist, I had to start up the tune, something that got me a sharp look from the fourth-grader. By the end he had his fingers plugging his ears.
Aside from the singing of the dreaded tune, things were going pretty good for a birthday party in the Sherrill family. He blew out the candles and had opened his presents and was getting along swimmingly with everyone there. It appeared, for a brief moment anyway, there’d be a birthday party without screaming or crying. I was quite elated since the party had been forced inside by the monsoon that hit Friday right around party time. Cramming a bunch of people into a confined space is generally a recipe for disaster.
Even as I smiled to myself, I caught something out of the corner of my eye. It was Henry’s older brother, Jack. In his hands he clutched one of Henry’s presents. It was a supersized Nerf bow and arrow set. Jack was creeping up behind his younger brother in what I can only describe as a reenactment of the Lincoln Assassination at Ford Theatre.
“Hey Henry,” Jack said with an evil ginger grin as he let the arrow go, catching his brother in the ear.
From the wail that went up you would have sworn it was a real arrow.
“He shot me!” Henry accused, holding his ear, pointing to the “grassy knoll” where his brother quickly dropped the evidence.
And, cue the crying. Despite it being a soft arrow, it took a couple of minutes to console the birthday boy and assure him he still had an ear. It was like a trip down memory lane.
Standard reporter Duane Sherrill can be reached at 473-2191.