Most RPGs Have Parties, None of Them Were Ever Like This
The sun shone down on my balding head like an unwanted spotlight, the flies were circling, and I heard screams coming from over my shoulder.
"Oh my God!" someone yelled. "Minnie's dead!"
When I imagined a Sunday afternoon at the park to celebrate the birthday of my one-year-old daughter, I'll admit this was not what I had pictured. September 15 wasn't supposed to be 91 degrees. We were supposed to grill some burgers and hot dogs, watch the kids run around at the park, and head home with full bellies and exhausted children.
What no one tells you about throwing your kids a birthday party is that they are really hard. Things don't go according to plan, you have to be flexible, and you might have to group-up and approach them as a team. And when you successfully throw a party (meaning no one chokes on a candle, gets stabbed with a plastic fork, or poops in their pants), you should really get some bonus experience points for that. That's a heck of an accomplishment!
Mickey Will Be Devastated
Don't worry by the way, "Minnie" was just a cupcake that my wife made to look like Mickey's leading lady, and at one point I accidentally squished one that had fallen on the floor. This led my seven-year-old nephew to revel in frightening a couple of the younger kids by saying she was dead. And this particular incident was just the icing on the cupcake (sorry!). I also got snippy with my wife as we were setting up, spilled milk all over the inside of my car, cooked the burgers to a crispy, dead black on the outside (but still managed to be raw in the center), and I'm pretty sure I swallowed a fly.
Next year we should form a party with another set of parents whose kid has a birthday around the same time as my daughter's. That would mean we could share the responsibilities and each have our own role: Food Bringer, Kid Watcher, and of course, Healer.
That's right, in the World of Birthday Parties, the "holy trinity" exists, and it's imperative that each player know their role and follow it to a T. Otherwise, the result is disastrous, like the "Great Party Wipe of 2012", where one player dropped their attention for one second, and Little Johnny ended up with cake shoved in his ear because Big Billy decided it would make a cool sound. (Which it really did, in his defense.)
If you have a well-oiled team of parents on board, then throwing successful birthday parties should be a breeze. But even then, you can't neglect your role, or you could still negatively impact your party.
Filling Your Role
For example, let's say I am playing as a Food Bringer, but another parent is also a Food Bringer. It is our role to not only bring the food to the party, but make sure it gets distributed to every kid evenly and that the boss (the birthday girl) keeps her attention on us, and not the Healer, who may be patching up some pretty nasty wounds thanks to Big Billy.
But if I get complacent and think, 'Ok, he's passing out the cake, so I'm going to check the NFL scores on my phone,' then I've just doomed the party. There is no way one person can properly hand out 37 slices of cake to excited, dirty little hands without dropping a piece, giving a piece that is too big to one kid and hearing it complained about by all the other kids, or starting a food fight.
You better believe I'll be hearing about that one afterwards in Mumble.
We survived the event, collected some epic loot, and didn't take too much damage. A few more of these and I think we'll be ready for the big time.
My wife and I talked about it on the way home tonight, and we've decided we're going to either group-up from now on, or just stick to simple content, like maybe only bringing our kids and a couple of their friends out to a theme park for a day of fun, rather than trying to entertain and provide for an entire school.
Maybe this would be like sticking to two-man dungeon runs, rather than 20-man raids. I think we may just need to level up a little more, which is where that bonus XP comes in. We survived the event, collected some epic loot, and didn't take too much damage. A few more of these and I think we'll be ready for the big time.
Grinding Is Necessary in This Game
In the end my daughter had a great first birthday party, which is really what matters, and we wore her and our five-year-old out so much that they slept the whole hour and a half home. My wife and I are also exhausted, but while she logged off early, I am still grinding away, writing this article and trying to score some more loot before hitting the hay. Birthday parties take a lot out of you, but the end result is well worth it.
A happy baby girl sleeping soundly in her crib, some great pictures to remember the day by, and leftover Minnie Mouse cupcakes that will make a great snack tomorrow.
Happy 1st Birthday Macy!