On the Art of a Surprise Party

Not gonna lie.
Well, I actually did need to lie.
But it TOTALLY worked.
And little man was thrilled that his wish came true.
 You see, about a month ago, the little guy decided,
--- out of the blue mind you ---
that he wanted a surprise party for his March birthday.

How does a 7-year-old even know of the concept of a surprise party,
let alone ask for one?
He really, REALLY wanted a surprise.
It was heavy on his mind.
He wouldn't take no for an answer. 
There might have been tears.
And a whole lot of  pleases.

And then, about a week later,
he said, "Mom, I still really want a surprise party, 
but can you wait until next year to surprise me?
Because if you do a surprise party for me this year 
I'll know about it because I've just asked you to have a surprise party for me.
But if you wait until next year I'll forget that I asked for a surprise party."

What does one say to that?

What I wanted to say: "Well buddy, bud, since the whole concept of surprise party is, ummm, surprise, I don't think you have to worry about it because if I pull it off, it'll be a surprise, whether it's this year or next." 

What I did say:  "Okay bud. Whatever you want." 

What I didn't say after that:  "Oh you know you're getting a surprise party little man. 
Just you wait 'til this mama blows your mind with how fun it feels to be the 
guest of honour at a surprise party.
Just you wait." 

And so, that was a few weeks ago. 
And then Tuesday of this week, 
I realized that IF we were indeed going to do a surprise party,
we'd need to 
a) figure out what the plan was; 
b) invite some school friends to the party; and 
c) hope like a crazy woman that some of them could come, 
because, well, 
the party needed to be -- Saturday -- or it wasn't going to happen.

In my typical whirling dervish style, emails went out trying to hunt down parents' email addresses so I could send evites rather than paper invitations. 
This is not normally how I roll but I just had to tell myself that 
every so often it's okay to do the email invite thingy. 
Not cool and not my style.
Emily Post would roll over in her grave.
{ Has she passed?  I assume so, right? Seems like she was from ages ago. }
But easy. And quick. 
Both of which I desperately needed.
I had dropped the ball.
And you can't drop the ball on a surprise party.
Or any party really.

And wouldn't you know it, I heard back from all but one of the parents saying their child could come and they'd be willing to work with me to keep it a surprise from their child too, so they didn't spill the beans during recess at school this week.


So I had to lie and tell him that his friends could come over to a 
party at our house on his actual birthday.
Next Wednesday.
So he needed to write down a list of the friends he wanted to come.
I had managed to keep him on a strict friend budget and told
him that because he was turning 8, he could only invite 8 friends.
 This, people, is NOT easy to do for someone as social as little man.
It was pure torture for him to narrow it down.
But in the end,
he invited 2 boys.
And 6 girls.
And we wonder where he gets that?

 And so, all of a sudden I got sicker than a dog on Tuesday night through late Wednesday night. Ya that didn't help the 'must-pull-off-a-surprise-party-in-4-days' challenge.

And Thursday was already packed with 2 photo shoots and a doc appointment
so no planning or purchasing of party supplies was happening on that day. 

So really, the surprise party was planned in a day, on the fly. 
And while I'm typically quite a planner for this sort of thing, the 


And so the party quickly evolved.

All because of this chevron patterned bag. 
 In a perfect world plastic tablecloths really should never have been invited,
because, well, 
they're ugly,
and they crinkle,
and they generally just look cheap and plastic.
Because they are both. 
[ And as I re-read that last little paragraph I sound SO snotty.
But I promise I'm not. And I'd NEVER judge if you used plastic.
I promise! ]
 BUT, when it comes to throwing a kid's party,
At least this mom's best friend.
This year.

And balloons.
Aren't balloons just fun.
They make life a little bitta happy if you ask me.

Thankfully, I have an amazing 11-year-old sweet daughter
who secretly agreed to completely decorate the house
while I took Jackson to basketball this morning.
The morning of the party.
 She did such an amazing job.
And I'll be honest,
there are some of you reading this
that I wouldn't trust to decorate for a party I was hosting at my house. 
But I trusted my Maddie and  I knew she could pull it off.
And she did.
Super proud of her.
Proud of the fact that I could leave her a list a mile long
and I knew she'd get the things done and get them done well.

So Jackson and several of his school friends have been on a park district basketball team this winter
and today was their last day.
And every week for the last 12 weeks, they've been BEGGING
to have a play date immediately following basketball.
But that just hasn't worked out.
Until today.

Sneaky, aren't we?
So as we knew they would,
they ran up to us afterwards and said, "Can we do a play date today?"
And with some hemming and hawing,
I said, "Well, I guess so if it's okay with Jordan's mommy."
So she -- who was just as sneaky as I -- hemmed and hawed a bit 
and then said, "Sure." 
Or something like that.
We're that good.

Operation Surprise Party 
officially underway.

Task:  Get Jackson and Jordan to Jump Zone by 11:45 where all the other friends 
would be waiting to jump out and SURPRISE him for his birthday.

Thankfully, there was a random deck of Go Fish cards in the car 
( which I actually didn't know he even had so it worked quite well)
so they were lost in the card game while I drove the opposite direction of home,
and right by their school
to pick up another friend for the party
(she could only come if I picked her up so I said, "Alrighty-then, we'll figure this out.)

So because Jackson and Jordan were so enthralled in their card game,
when I pulled up outside her house I just said, 
"I've gotta drop off this paperwork I'll be right out."
And Jackson, playing right into my hand, said,
"Okay, we'll just stay in the car." 


So I went in,
 got the birthday gift and brought it out to the car 
and put it in the front without either of them noticing.
And the gift was HUGE and so not-hide-able.
But I hide it.
And then went back in and got Briana and brought her out to the car,
and actually had to knock on the door for the two of them 
to look to see who was knocking on the car door. 
And then they SQUEALED with delight thinking that Briana 
was joining in on the play date, too.
It was their LUCKY day.
I mean, they squealed and hugged and squealed some more.


Now mind you, 
once again I went the opposite direction of home
but none of the kids noticed or cared.
They were together.
Having a play date.
And had nothing else happened it would have been awesome too,
because they were so happy to be together.
On a Saturday.

They piped up at one point and said, 
"Are we almost to your house?" 
I said, "Ummm. Ya. Getting close."
Another lie.
I can justify lying for surprise parties.
And that's about the only time I can justify lying.
And I'm not lying.

And then randomly Jackson or Jordan said, 
" We should go to Jump Zone for our play date. That would be SO fun."

In stealth-like fashion, I simply stated,
"Maybe some day but not today." 
And they let it go.
Crisis averted.

And so I drove right to Jump Zone.
Meanwhile the three of them were oblivious to the very large warehouse on our left.
Finally, at one point Briana looked up and said, 

And then, again, ever-so-smoothly,
this Mama simply said, 
"Well you guys just asked if we could go to Jump Zone for our play date
so why not? Let's go to Jump Zone for your play date."

More squealing.
More hugging.
And me -- more inner smiling.
Operation Surprise Party was working out beautifully!!!

Keep in mind that Briana actually knows we are going to Jump Zone and has done an AMAZING job of not slipping up about that up until this point. 
Truly shocked that a seven-year-old didn't slip.

And also keep in mind that Jackson and Jordan have NO IDEA 
that there are friends inside waiting
to surprise Jackson for his birthday.

And so, we walk in the door and Jack and a bunch of 2nd graders yell,

And they started singing Happy Birthday.
And then hugs happen.
And Jackson says,
"I can't believe it." 
And he's happy and everyone is happy and it's 
SUCH an incredible feeling to see your child so excited.
It truly is amazing.
And as we walked toward the counter
Jackson said, "I can't believe you surprised me!" 

The hurricane machine was SO fun to watch.
A few of these are blurry but you've just gotta see the expressions on the kids' faces.

And so they played for quite awhile
and eventually we wrapped things up there
and moved the party back to our house.

Remember, when we left the house for basketball,
there was nary a trace of a party in site.
So Jackson just thought we were coming back to the house for pizza.
As we pulled up he saw the balloons out front,
and the sign Maddie made.

How fun!
The surprise continued.
The table was set.
Aunt Denise had surprised Jackson and had come for the day,
and he had actually said earlier in the week,
"I wish Aunt Denise could come for my birthday."
So how awesome was it that she was there, inside the house upon his arrival.
And how amazing that she'd come early and get the pizzas in the oven and 
the last minute stuff ready so that when we walked in,
the kids could eat.
basketball for an hour and then 
running and jumping on large inflatables for even longer.

Jackson is so social.
And LOVES his friends.
And he has so many of them and he wished he could have invited them all.
He's very silly.
And overly dramatic.
{ I have no idea where he gets either of those qualities. I blame it on the Clarks.}
He is tender.
And sweet.
And thoughtful.
And polite.
And funny.  Like his daddy.

They all had fun opening his presents together.

It was fun to see him spoiled today.
Makes a mama's heart fill right up to the brim.

And later in the day, while working on Legos,
he called me over, stood up and said,
"Thanks Mommy, for surprising me with a birthday party today.
I loved it. I was so surprised. It was so special."

And he hugged me.
And kissed me.
And put his hands up to my cheek and squeezed.
And said,
"I love you so much!"



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