This weekend my first grader attended the birthday party of a male classmate. We got in the car, drove 40 minutes across town, and landed on Planet Boy.
A football game graced the living room TV. Little Bit stared at it in confusion. The televisions in our house have the S chip – sports programs are blocked – so she’d never seen football before. Birthday Boy and a few early guests spilled down the stairs and swarmed over the room, knocking potted plants and assorted furniture about.
My daughter clung to me, eyes wide.
The Boys vanished again through a thick mist of fists and elbows, the magic words “new legos” having lured them upstairs.
“Little Bit,” I said, “do you want to go up to Birthday Boy’s room with the other kids?”
Her grip tightened and she begged me with her eyes not to leave.
I chatted with the other mothers while gently trying to pry my child’s fingers loose before she cut off my circulation. Mercifully, the entertainment arrived in the form of Proton Pam.
The Mad Science company (www.madscience.com) will send an educator to your house to do a one hour science show for your party guests. The show includes chemicals, electricity, magic, and gross jokes. I don’t know what it costs but let me tell you, Proton Pam earned every penny.
Birthday Boy’s mom thoughtfully provided a pillow for each guest to sit on, on the floor. The four little girl guests sat on their pillows and watched Proton Pam with rapt attention. The twelve little boy guests shoved each other off of pillows, grabbed each other’s pillows, whapped each other with pillows, put each other in choke holds in order to gain control of one another’s pillows, rolled across the floor without regard to obstacles such as other children, punched each other, and occasionally looked up to see what Proton Pam was up to.
Most amazing to me was the Boy capacity for self-deception. One little fellow ran his mouth continuously throughout the program, yet when P.P. restored order by asking “who’s listening?” he clammed up mid-sentence, removed his hands from his neighbor’s ankles, faced forward, and shot his arm up in the air with an earnest, attentive expression.
The cake and ice cream interlude was safe enough, as the boys were momentarily stilled by the need to aim their forks into their mouths. That accomplished, Little Bit felt no need to linger.
In the car she expressed satisfaction with the party, the initial trauma of culture shock forgotten. She especially liked the bag of loot the Mad Science people provide, containing several cool science-y toys.
I think it’s good for a child’s social development to have these eye-opening experiences in diversity. Coming soon in the form of her big sister: Planet Adolescence.