If you've ever had a kid or been a kid - well obviously at some point everyone was a kid - you know that there are a few birthday party phases that kids have. In the beginning it's just the family party, with a bunch of relatives giving gifts to the parents to help the parents. But once the kid's in preschool or kindergarten, it's the very first "kid party" phase, when Mom looks up the class roster and invites everyone on the list, and all the mommies stay and watch their kids as they engage in idle play together, even if they don't know each other.
Then there's the dreaded Chuck-E-Cheese phase, usually at 6 or 7 years old, perhaps even younger; for some reason it's on the birthday party bucket list for every kid, including myself when I was a youngun, and for some reason the bacteria breeding farm coated with grime and poorly made toys is fun. The party favor is usually some stupid toy that was a prize from some game that had more bacteria than a petri dish, and if you're lucky, a new strain of Streptococcus or Staphylococcus something-rather. It truly is a nightmare of a party. After the kids wolf down pizza that sits in your digestive tract like a gooey lard, they all get some sort of infectious disease, and before long the whole grade's out sick with strep. Thanks, "Chuck-E".
Then there's the easy phase, when kids start inviting their amiable cohorts, and they do simple activities together, like ordering pizzas, sleeping over, and watching movies. That is the type of party my brother wanted this year, so tonight we hosted a slew of 11 year old boys and we went out for hamburgers and frozen yogurt. Such a simple, yet delightful, party. None of this conjunctivitis or influenza from Chuck-E-Cheese.
But as they say in the Charmin Ultra commercials, "less is more"! A simple party with your best friends can be a lot better than a big huge fancy party with tons of people you don't know very well. And they all had fun playing and laughing and just hanging out. And sometimes that's all you really need. Some good friends, some good yogurt, and some good burgers. Even though I don't like burgers.