For Silas’ birthday party, he chose the book Dragons Love Tacos as his theme. It was kind of…random, but fun, and he had a lot of great ideas. One thing I’ve enjoyed as the whole ridiculous birthday party tradition has gone along is how the kids are beginning to take on more of an “art director” role. So it’s more of an all-family collaboration than just JC and me manufacturing events.
We had a copy of the book on hand, in case anybody wasn’t familiar with it.
Because of COVID, we agreed that the party had to be outside and masked. We made a bunch of masks as party favors. They had dragon fabric on one side and taco fabric on the other. Petra did a lot of the sewing, and loved the whole process. I was impressed with her work. She also kept me on track; if I hadn’t been working with her, I would have been up sewing the night before the party. But she kept asking me when we would do the next bit, for weeks beforehand. The pattern we chose got mixed reviews; some of the kids liked them, and others felt like they weren’t comfortable. Masks are very individual!
For decorations, Silas had the idea that he wanted us to have “boatloads of tacos!” “houseloads of tacos!” “pantsloads of tacos!” Petra offered her Calico Critters house. We thought we had a pirate ship toy around, but when it came time to set up the decorations, nobody could find it. So much for “boatloads.” “Pantsloads” was my favorite; I had an old pair of jeans, and I cut them off at the knees, stuffed them with crumpled junk mail, and slathered wheat paste all over it. All was going well until I left my “pants mâché” on the porch and we had a sudden downpour. It took days for them to dry (and I had to replace the junk mail stuffing). I also had forgotten that wheat paste doesn’t dry clear, so they looked streaky and white. I told Silas to pick a color for me to spray paint them, and he chose purple. So we had purple pants mâché…
The kids drew dragons and taped them up behind the house and pants, as we realized this was becoming a very taco-heavy party. We needed more dragons! I actually had been planning on using some of Silas’ collection of high fantasy dragons, but he insisted that they needed to be more cartoony, like in the book.
JC went to Costco for supplies a few days before the party and happened to find a huge box of tiny frozen tacos, so I didn’t have to make tacos for stuffing the house and pants.
Besides watermelon, tiny frozen tacos, and general taco fixings, we had a tasting flight of salsas. None of the kids were brave enough to try the ghost pepper one! There’s also a thing in the book where they bury the very spicy salsa, so Silas asked us to supply some sacrificial salsa (not pictured) for burial. The kids went and dug a hole and then poured in a big jug of cheap salsa.
The party was on Myers’ actual birthday, and so I made him a birthday cake as well as Silas. They’re supposed to look like tacos? I don’t always win at the cake thing.
At first, I felt like there wasn’t much point in making this whole elaborate themed thing. The kids mostly just ran around with sticks and water guns, screaming like they were possessed, and I quietly prayed that this birthday party wouldn’t end with a trip to the COVID-crowded ER (it didn’t, but that felt like luck).
Eventually, they did get interested in the various things I had set up, which I was pretty happy about.
Everyone still talks about the Totoro photo booth from Petra’s fourth birthday, so I thought it would be fun to make a giant taco and a dragon backdrop. JC did the dragon painting. Some of the kids got really into it (especially Esther!), but many of them ignored it. The ones that let me take their pictures in it were hilarious.
I also got a bunch of shirts and printed tacos on all of them, inviting the kids to decorate them with sharpie. I thought they would draw dragons eating the tacos, but many of them chose to turn the tacos into cats or dragons or other random things. I loved how creative they were with all of it!
In the midst of all of this, my brother got married by an Elvis in Vegas, and I was streaming it on my phone. Some of the kids were curious and tried to watch, but mostly it was just the adults, clustered around my phone. We cheered when they kissed, and Silas got a new official aunt for his birthday!
As always, it’s the things I don’t plan that end up creating the most magic. Peter was testing out JC’s polearm (?) and sliced a bunch of bamboo. The kids all started marching and dancing around with these tremendous fronds. They improvised a magic ritual as the sun was going down. All of the parents just watched in awe. I can only assume it was intended to confer some kind of magic blessing on the birthday boy as he enters his twelfth year.
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