The party went quite well, if I do say so myself. As parents dropped off their children Steve told them that we hoped to have the movie finished by around 8 but that they (the parents) were welcome to come back a little early and join us for a beer or a glass of wine or, um, water or chocolate milk or whatever and chat with other parents from the school. A surprising (to me - I took the under on Steve's bet) number of people took us up on this - possibly because the movie did not actually end until 8:30 and thus we were holding their kids hostage - so we wound up with a mini grown-up party in addition to our movie party and it was very nice to put faces to the license plates at which I have so often shaken my fist.
-actually I am kidding. Patrick's old school parking lot was filled with the dregs of humanity (abounding in line jumpers and speeders and handicapped parking space stealers) but this new place is a miracle of both efficiency and courtesy and I did not grudge them my wine or my chocolate milk -
Since so many parents came back early we only had two and a half hours until reinforcements arrived and it was all fine. The pre-Celexa me would have freaked out anyway but the normal me recognized that the entertaining bar for the twelve and under set is pretty low and, anyway, they were all just so excited to be together and not at school that they barely noticed the food or the movie or anything. This has been a realization that took me forever to assimilate but has been incredibly liberating: people (big and little) just like being together and appreciate hospitality in pretty much any form. You do not have to meet each and every dietary need. You do not have to dust the antimacassars and bust out the good plastic glasses. Just invite people and be happy they came and it tends to be a pretty good party.
One guest has severe food allergies and arrived with his epi-kit. Just as I was worrying what to feed him he solved my dilemma by explaining that I shouldn't bother because he never eats anything away from home. I said, "Oh? Never? Nothing?" and he said, "Would you if someone not knowing what an egg looks like meant you COULD DIE?" and I thought awww it's like a whole classful of Patricks bless their teacher's heart and I said, "No, I wouldn't. Water?" He declined.
One kid had already seen Ghostbusters and hated it so he wandered upstairs when the movie started. I took him to Patrick's room to find a book and then he and I sat on the couch together and read in companionable silence for about an hour. In twenty years of entertaining he was, without question, my favorite guest ever.
As people showed up we put on that collection of Pixar shorts that someone mentioned, then broke for pizza and carrots and cookies once everyone had arrived (thirteen in all.) After a loud but tidy dinner (at the conclusion of which over 90% of the children picked up their plates and cups and cleared their places - Steve and I almost fell over in awe) they trooped back downstairs for the the main feature which was... Ghostbusters. We could have gone with practically any of your other suggestions but just as I was heading off to Blockbuster to peruse the classics for things like Willow and The Last Starfighter my friend Noelle reminded me that Blockbuster is going out of business and I would be lucky to buy discounted bright blue shelving there let alone rent a movie. D'oops. So Ghostbusters it was and THANK YOU for the heads up on the poltergeistian s-e-x because no one I consulted had remembered the ribaldry. Being forewarned enabled us to forearm Steve with the remote control. So he established himself in a corner during the movie and whenever something happened that might cause random parents to send us heavily underlined copies of the Bible he created a technical difficulty complete with tipsy cameraman.
(I actually wondered if the reason why none of us remember the sex scenes was because our parents had done the same thing lo these many years ago. Like, no one has ever seen the unexpurgated Ghostbusters because generations of parents have frantically tripped over the cord to the Betamax just as things started to get steamy.)
I went with the carrots, by the way, because you told me to and because you were right: carrots are easier than salad. I am not entirely convinced that salad would have been universally reviled (but but but my kids eat it - I mean, except Caroline who has never eaten a green vegetable in her entire life and views our nightly salad like so many caterpillars on her plate) but I also know that no quantity of personal experience can qualify a person to predict what children in toto will eat. Take Oliver Twist, for example. I'll bet that just as he was up there asking for more some orphan in the corner was poking dubiously at her bowl saying, "I don't like this kind of gruel."
But yeah, Caroline won't eat vegetables except maybe carrots despite having them on her plate every day for the past seven hundred years. It doesn't matter if they are steamed or roasted or raw or cut a la Parenting magazine into whimsical shapes like zebras and the Arc de Triomphe. I have served them with dip and butter and bribes and... nothing doing. Edward, in contrast, loves vegetables. He can eat an entire bunch of asparagus by himself. He has been known to clasp his hands together and say, "Ohhhhhh zukeemee!" He can polish off a pint of tomatoes, two ears of corn and as much broccoli as can be wedged into a plastic produce bag. And Patrick, who got the full force of our first child only child why won't he eeeeeaaat angst still eats exactly what we fretted over when he was three: red pepper, carrots, salad and raw spinach - broccoli and asparagus only under protest. Potatoes, never.
Good lord where was I? Oh right I served carrots to strange children and some of them ate them and some of them did not and I did not really care one way or another. I didn't even care - much - when the pediatrician asked Caroline at her four year check if she eats vegetable and Caroline turned her head into her shoulder and did a full-on silent screen shudder and said, "Vegetables! Oh NO!" And then I had to listen to a lecture that was directed at her but really at me about how she needed to be presented with a daily assortment of fresh n' healthy blah et ceteras.
Oh hey, did I ever tell you about their four year appointments? They were pretty humdrum so probably not. In terms of size Caroline is 25/25 and Edward is 50/50-75. They tested vision and hearing but since Edward already sees an eye doctor annually for the iris cysts that blinded him as a newborn (he's fine) and has seen an audiologist after his ear glue issues (also fine) there was nothing new there. Caroline shook hands with the pediatrician and asked how his kids were doing. He said, "Fine. How are you parents?" She said, "Oh they're good." When we left he said that were both fine, healthy and developing normally; Caroline scarily so. She really is the most social of butterflies and we are so not and I think scary is a good word for it because the rest of us find her willingness to stop in a restaurant and admire someone's baby rather frightening.
So here's a discussion question: what happened to calling adults by their titles? I called every adult I knew Mrs or Mr and the only exceptions were family who became Aunt First Name. That went for my parents' friends as well as my friends' parents. I actually rented a room from my best friend's Dad for a few months after college and I still cannot imagine calling him Harry. But no one at Patrick's party even attempted a Mrs. I don't mind, mind you, and I'm sure if I had said "You may call me Mrs Danvers" while clanking the ring of keys around my belt they all would have done so but I am curious. Is this regional? National? Do they do this even in the - pearl clutch - South?