Monkey had her pirate party yesterday so Saturday morning found Margot, one of my closest friends, and I knee deep in cardboard and duct tape building a pirate ship for the party. We began the plan for the ship with a fair amount of trepidation, certain that we were as likely to create a giant mess as we were to create a ship. However, we bought poster paint, we bought a used sheet at the Salvation Army, we got empty moving boxes out of the basement and we got our creativity on. Surprisingly we managed to create a rather respectable ship, for a pair of landlubbers.
This was the result:
It was a hit with the kids, just enough of a ship to provide them with fuel for their imaginations. There were bits of ocean lying about, bits of shark and alligator, whale and fish. During the party they ran on and off the ship, which served as a great center piece for the party. The ship only took an hour to put together and paint. We even managed the sail with a rake, an old mop handle, some tape, and the sheet. We laughed and schemed, worked and plotted, talked and taped. We drank water and worked in the sun, painted bits of ocean or bits of plank, and throughly enjoyed ourselves.
I had more fun building the ship with Margot and decorating for the party than I did at the party. It was like being kids again ourselves, putting that silly ship together. I felt relaxed and energized in a way I haven’t for a long, long time. It didn’t feel like work, it felt like play, actual play, kid style play. Best of all, when we were done with our play, the kids got to have theirs:
The party was a huge success for all attendees, parents and children alike. The generous flow of beer and margarita allowed the parents to relax and chill while the large expanse of backyard ocean allowed the children to play and scream to their hearts content. We provided each child with a pirate hat, eye-patch, ear-ring, and weapon of their choice and encouraged parents and children to dress in costume. Everyone arrived in colorful attire and shared hot dogs and hamburgers, chips and fruit, and sea serpent brownie cake with good cheer.
By chosing to make our decorations, Margot and I got to spend some really special time together. I think it is easy to forget how much joy can be derived from problem solving and how much simple fun can be had in creating something new out of something old. Birthdays have become such a huge money sink in our culture, and so much of the time parents are relegated to the role of money lender, grill master, and kitchen slave, while their children run around on someone else’s creation. We got to skip the money sink this year and join in the play, just by taking the time to make our kids party decorations, something I hope to remember for the years to come.