A Birthday Party
The other day I decided to surprise my friend with an unexpected visit on the day of her sons’ sixth birthday, carrying a gift for the kid and flowers for the proud parents. I knew there would be a kids' party going on and I figured they could use an extra pair of hands.
As I approached the front door I was expecting to hear the sound of rowdy, rollicking kids coming from the family room. I was surprised to find the house quiet and, by the looks of it, the room deserted. They must have gone to a party place somewhere after all, I thought. I rang the bell once more and then my friend opened the door, shushing me with her index finger raised to her pursed mouth. “What’s going on?”, I mouthed, stepping into the hallway.
She led me to her son’s bedroom and quietly opened the door, letting me tiptoe inside. Coming from a brightly lit sunny afternoon it took my eyes a while to adjust to the semi-darkness of the room, its navy poplin curtains drawn tight. A bunch of five- and six-year-olds were packed onto the bed while several more were seated cross-legged in front of it, their attention focused on the opposite wall. One of the kids on the bed was holding a flashlight, steadily pointing its bright beam onto a flip-over across the room.
Next to flip-over the birthday boy was standing, half in darkness. A recording was playing and I recognized his voice reciting a story of a proud prince who set out on a quest, having to fight dragons and goblins in order to accomplish some noble deed. I held my breath as did the kids, while he slowly and deliberately flipped a page with every turn in the story.
I could sense that something special was going on - these otherwise boisterous youngsters, sitting motionless, bent on taking in every detail of this unknown fairy tale, were under a spell. When the happy end was finally reached, applause and cheers broke out and bodies again began to move. Someone switched on the light, but was instantly booed. Then one of the kids yelled “Do it again!” and they all started chanting in chorus “One more time, one more time!”. The light was turned off, the sheets flipped back to page 1 and the recording set at the start. The adventure came to life once more, kids shushing each other as I quietly tiptoed out of the room.
Later, back home, I found myself smiling at the memory of the experience. This is the stuff memories are made of.
When I spoke to my friend again, I asked her what had given her the idea of scheduling something like this for her sons’ birthday party. Apparently, the little boy, himself the type that thinks up four or five-line stories at the slightest provocation, had insisted on telling his friends one of his stories at his sixth birthday party. Not wanting to disappoint him she had decided to help him present it.
Together they had chosen the story best suited for a birthday party and had embellished and extended the plot line here and there. With a simple pencil she had drawn ten rudimentary pictures on large sheets of paper to go with the story. Her son had colored those in using water color paint and bright markers. Finally, his voice had been recorded reading his own story and, presto, a delightful and unique home cinema experience had been created. At hardly any cost, to boot.
If you’re at a loss as to the programming of your child’s upcoming birthday party, you might want to give this a try. The concept easily adjusts to various ages and various levels of creative skill. You could even start from a traditional fairy tale and personalize it. Whatever you choose to do, your child is in for a memorable birthday!
Adapted from an entry in the author’s personal journal
Pictures taken by author
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