I looked up from my phone, irritated. It seems like Nadjah is always sighing about one thing or another these days.
“What? What is it?” I demanded. I was in no mood for her mercurial tween angst. Her episodes had been a burden on my nerves for weeks.
“Well… It’s just that my birthday is coming up, and I think it’s going to be pretty lame because we’re not in Atlanta any more.”
I softened a bit. It just so happened that in that very moment, I was missing Atlanta as well. I missed the blending of cultures; the hundreds of venues and events from which to choose for entertainment; and Chick-Fil-A. We always miss Chick-Fil-A. And DragonCon. The painful memory of its omission from our social calendar was still fresh in my and the children’s minds. We’ve been attending the Con as a family since Aya was in a stroller. I put my hand on Nadjah’s cheek and sighed with her.
Now I understand completely what happened, of course. Hindsight is always 20/20. It is because she caught me snacking on roasted peanuts and raisins instead of waffle fries and thick ketchup that I found myself beholden to the ridiculous idea that I proffered. The torment I have experienced over the previous two weeks is of no one’s making but my own – for it was with my own lips and through my own face that I said:
“You know what? Since we didn’t get to go to DragonCon this year, why don’t we have ‘NadjahCon’ for your birthday?”
“Yeah! You and all your friends dress up in cosplay, we’ll have some games…”
“…and a photo booth, and prizes!”
“I’m going to be Hatsune Miku blah, blah, blah, blah, blahhhh….”
I had no idea who or what this Hatsune Miku person was, but knowing my child as I do, I knew that creating this entity was going to cost me a pretty penny. *Spoiler alert: It has.*
For the next 4 days, every conversation we had was about the invitations I was promised to design and make.
“Mommy, I drew Hatsune like I said I would. Are the invitations done yet?”
“Mommy, did you do them yet?”
Mind you, we have no functioning printer in our house, so I have to run to a local joint called The Print Shop and give them 60 cents per page anytime I need to fulfill an order. 60 cents doesn’t sound like a lot, until you multiply it by a billion. Because guess who didn’t line up her images correctly? Yes. This chick… this chick right here. And guess who had to pay The Print Shop a nice little grip to re-print the cards? You know don’t how much I wish the answer to that question was Your momma!
At this point, it’s all gotten completely out of hand. I’m making pterodactyl eggs, commissioning a local seamstress to make superhero capes for the kids who are SURE to show up without a costume and scattering money all over town for props. I am behaving like a Nigerian mother but operating without an Oga’s budget. You think my husband is in support of this foolishness?
“Why can’t she just have a couple of friends over, have some pizza, and have a sleepover?”
I would have (possibly) been in favor of that plan if Pastor Grant hadn’t done that thing when he bends his body at the knees, widens his eyes and speaks in slow, deliberate terms. Like he’s talking to someone in the process of making a series of poor, regrettable decisions and he’s trying desperately to get through to them with reason.
Naturally, I rebuffed his suggestion with a counterpoint of my own.
“That’s LAME, Marshall!”
And that’s how your craftily challenged blogger friend here ended up making a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle shell out of papier-mâché and several “indestructible” shields out of cardboard and hot glue.
As I was mulling over my self-inflicted wounds, the eldest of my loin fruit joined me in the living room and settled herself on the sofa across from me.
“You know what, Mommy? I was thinking. Instead of calling it ‘NadjahCon’, can we just call it ‘BDayCon’?”
NadjahCon sounded too self-absorbed, apparently. I just looked at her, grunted my approval and redesigned the invitations…again.
Yesterday, after I’d gotten back from Home Express (the US equivalent of Dollar Tree), where I had dropped the same obscene amount of money that every woman leaves in any discount store where she walks in with the intention of getting ‘one thing’, a thought occurred to me.
Maybe…maybe Nadjah could’ve gotten her best buddies together and just gone OUT for dinner. Maybe…maybe milkshakes with her friends could have been good enough. Perhaps – and I was just standing there in the sun thinking out loud, mind you – but perhaps we all could’ve just watched the highlights of DragonCon 2016 on YouTube instead of trying to live out a counterfeit version in the middle of South Africa with a bunch of kids who have no idea what cosplay is or how it works or might not find it interesting in the least.
Oh well. We’ll never know, will we? Tomorrow I go in search of PVC pipe so that I can construct a frame for the steampunk inspired photo booth. Like I said, I’ve gone too far to turn back now.
I’m glad we changed the name of the party to BDayCon 2016. It’s totally apt. Not only did I get conned into producing a major party, but I played myself.
*This isn’t one of the worst mistakes I’ve made in my parenting journey, but it certainly isn’t one of my finest hours. Have you ever parented out of guilt? At what point did you decide this point was far enough and decide to pull back? Or are you like me – just riding all the way into the Danger Zone with no decorum nor common sense? Discuss!