Those I can handle.
What I’m talking about are large events that involve uncertain crowd sizes, food by the pallet, and a thousand details. Being a worrier by nature, I generally suffer anxiety for weeks ahead of time and carry a running list in my head of all the things that need to be done. While my husband slumbers peacefully, I lie awake, reviewing the list.
There is something about hosting a party that forces you to get odd jobs done that you’ve been meaning to do, but have been putting off. One of our big projects this time around was the driveway. Over the years, potholes had sprung up that were becoming a serious threat to small children and pets. In lieu of a professional traffic director or an on-staff policeman, we as a family would rush out to the driveway to help the teen driver and his compact car navigate safely around the biggest one. This generally involved shouting, pointing, and a flurry of windmilling arms with said driver hunched over the steering wheel, ashen faced. It was nerve-wracking.
Knowing, too, that the disappearance of one or more hapless partygoers would bode ill for attendance at future Schrock events, my husband got on the phone and called in a load of crushed asphalt to cover the drive. Breathing a sigh of relief, I mentally crossed that off my list and moved on to the next thing.
In spite of all my worrying, everything went off without a hitch. The weather was beautiful and plan B was left untouched. I had decided in advance that if we ran out of food (a hostess’ greatest fear), I would don a disguise, infiltrate the angry crowd forming by the empty crockpots, and mutter to those close by, “No more meatballs? What were they thinking?!”
Told you I’m good at worrying.
Anticipating the novelty of having a soft-serve ice cream machine on site, the two middles made the mistake of declaring beforehand the stance they intended to assume for the duration of the party. This basically consisted of the two of them jockeying for position directly beneath the dispenser, jaws wide open. Armed with this knowledge, the powers that be moved to establish a secure perimeter around the machine, and their plot was aborted.
Post festivities, the last week has been spent transitioning to a summer schedule. Already, there has been one indoor water fight, leaving a soggy bathroom, a wet kitchen floor, and the forfeiture of a trip to town with mom. Ah, yes. Summer is here indeed.
Another thing we did this week was to gather the mob and join the parade of fellow churchgoers in front of the cameras for the every-three-year church directory picture. Trying to get six people to take a presentable family portrait, we’ve learned, is only slightly less harrowing than undergoing a root canal. Why is it that inevitably someone ends up looking like a felon or blinks or glances off to the side at the last second? Then there are two or three of us that are patently unable to smile naturally on demand, resulting in strange grimaces and painful dental displays.
The last time we did this, the poor salesperson that was showing us the proofs wrote the whole lot of us off as certifiable. In the first portrait that popped up, son number two presented with such a contorted expression in his attempt at a natural smile that all three boys who were sitting behind us went into kinks of laughter. As it always happens, it’s when you shouldn’t laugh that you can’t help it, and in a nanosecond they had pulled us in and we all five got the giggles. When their father did the classic “deer in the headlights” look with his eyebrows up in his hairline in one photo, it was all over.
With a restless toddler this time, trying to exit the photo by climbing off daddy’s lap, we gave the photographer and her toys a good workout. To the people who were behind us in line, I hope you got a good shot. I’m pretty sure she was draped over her tripod, unconscious, when we left.
You can see, then, why it necessitated a trip to the brand-new Dairy Queen afterwards to recuperate, and doggone it if those kids didn’t blind me with their natural smiles when the ice cream showed up. I think next time the photographers should set up shop down at the DQ and wave hot fudge sundaes in front of reluctant little smilers. It would be the best directory yet.