For those of you not located in Canada, you may not know that we just celebrated Victoria Day. Being the good former colony that we are, Victoria Day is a celebration of our former Monarch’s birthday which has now devolved into an excuse to shoot off fireworks, have a BBQ, drink beer, and generally kick off the summer season – despite the fact that we often have to attend said fireworks still wearing our parkas and mittens.
In our house, it’s also usually Monkey’s birthday weekend. He turned 9 this year and we spent the weekend surrounded by his friends and our family, too much food, and some awesome cake.
It’s the kind of weekend that I both love and dread. Having a house full of 8-9 year old boys for most of Saturday afternoon was loud, to say the least, and it always grates on my poor introverted, quiet-loving nerves. But, Monkey’s friends are just so damned cute. Everybody got along and at one point there was a herd of boys running up and down my street dressed in variations of every former Halloween costume that I keep in our Tickle Trunk (any Canadian over the age of 35 will get that reference). We had an Indiana Jones pirate, a Jedi Captain America and some other creative choices that defy description. They’re at such a great age where they don’t care what anybody thinks and it’s all about having fun and seeing how many chips they can stuff in themselves in a 3 hour period.
Muppet outdid himself once again with an amazing Plants vs. Zombies themed cake and actually got some of the kids to sit still long enough to do a Zen Garden themed craft to take home. For my part, I kept them fed and alive and only suffered a little bit of guilt over the amount of sugar they all ingested before I sent them home to their parents.
Saturday night Monkey had one of his friends sleep over and despite my best efforts, they were still laughing and giggling and farting in his room until almost 11pm. What I didn’t expect was for them to be up at 5:30am raring to go. Being the good parents we are, we sent them to the basement to play video games so that we could get some more sleep before the descent of virtually every family member on our house Sunday afternoon. We figured that we needed to be well rested in order to deal with Monkey’s inevitable meltdown that was going to come at some point that day from lack of sleep and too much excitement.
The family started arriving around 2pm and it was the usual chaotic hubbub. My favourite part is always being able to sit with my mum while she knits and we catch up on life. After her cancer diagnosis last year, and given her limited mobility caused by arthritis, I am realizing that these moments are going to be gone some day, so I’ve learned to just sit quietly in the chaos and spend time with her.
The BBQ burgers were great and there were more cupcakes. Muppet’s parents set a new personal record by being 4 1/2 hours late to the party, which is a whole other topic for another time. The expected meltdown came when poor Monkey got shot in the forehead by a Nerf dart which led to hysterics of epic proportions but thankfully there was the promise of presents to soothe his (and our) frazzled nerves. The sniper was eventually identified as my 12 year old nephew, and I was just grateful that Monkey wasn’t taken down by his own brother. Cousins can be forgiven, brothers… not so much.
Everybody evacuated by about 9pm and I beat a hasty retreat to my friends house for some backyard drinks to celebrate yet another, more grown-up birthday. We tried valiantly to ignore the fact that the temperature was dropping rapidly and finally gave up at 1am when we realized that there was frost forming on the ground.
Monday is always a day to clean up the carnage of the weekend around here. The promise of fireworks in the evening is always my favourite part. Our neighbourhood association puts on an amazing show every year and I always get such a warm, fuzzy feeling when I see everybody gathering, buying bags of popcorn from the concession, catching up with friends, kids running around and dancing with sparklers. It’s such a precious sense of community in such a big city.
Now it’s Tuesday and the kids are off to school. I’m still in my pyjamas, nursing my second cup of coffee and feeling perfectly content. The weekend was chaotic and loud and stressful at times, but I really wouldn’t have it any other way.