We have had a string of really wonderful, beautiful days here in the land of 10,00 lakes. Blue skies, puffy clouds, 75 degrees, not humid, few mosquitos. Really, very lovely.

But then this morning, the girls were invited to a friend’s birthday swimming party, and the day dawned cloudy and sprinkle-y. I noticed it right away when I woke– WHERE IS THE SUN WE’RE GOING SWIMMING THIS MORNING!– but the kids didn’t seem to notice at all. They got up and ate and put their suits on and gathered towels, happily.

So then we get to the party, and the kids are having a blast, but the parents are lightly tittering about the weather. It sprinkled for most of the time, and it was a bit chilly. Not the “perfect” day for a swimming party. Meanwhile, the kids were gleefully flinging themselves off the diving board and squealing down the waterslide, rain drops be damned.

Eventually we hauled them, shivering, out of the pool for pizza, cake, and gifts. Many of the kids were blue-lipped and visibly shaking, but all of them cheerfully sat around tables, ignoring the cold and the possibly impending rainstorm of doom, and ate and talked and giggled and smiled.

When it came time to sing to the birthday girl, we all gathered around. The kids’ hair was all weird and sticky-uppy from swimming, their fingers were orange from Doritos, their faces smudged with pizza sauce or watermelon juice. But then it happened; as we sang to the birthday girl, I noticed how brightly she was beaming;  taking it in: her friends, all there, singing to her. She was just so HAPPY in that moment. As I glanced around to all the other small faces, I noticed they were all reflecting her happiness back at her, unaware of being cold or sticky, unaware that today wasn’t the “perfect” day for swimming, unaware that their hair was sticking up at odd angles or that they had orange chip powder on their noses and goggle creases on their foreheads.

For them, in fact, it WAS the perfect day for a swimming party. Friends, a pool, full bellies, cake…. really, is there any MORE one could ask for?

And that’s when I remembered that adults are dumb. We are too aware of our own expectations of “the perfect day”: sunshine and perfectly groomed children, warm weather and no messes. In reality, a beautiful day had been spat in our direction, perfectly imperfect, and if it weren’t for those joyful kids, we all would have missed it. We all would have been playing out our own “perfect” day in our own heads, ignoring these glorious children, right there, close enough to smell the chlorine on their skin. Who cares if they looked like drowned rats…. did you see those SMILES?

Kids, man. They do a lot of things right.

And you know? The sun came out, in the end.


4 thoughts on “Party

  1. This reminded me so strongly of my ninth birthday party – my birthday is in May, and in Georgia where I grew up, it’s usually hot by then but not always. The pool had just opened for the season and the water was COLD, but I was desperate to have a pool party. It was perfect, despite the cold water and the unseasonably cool and overcast day, and it’s probably my favorite party to remember. Thanks for reminding me! I fully agree about adult expectations – we so frequently focus on the wrong details, and set ourselves up for disappointment! That’s one of my favorite things about having a kid, so far: she gives me that perspective back!

  2. Susie stole my comment, except it was my 10th birthday. This post really brought me back. Is there anything better than seeing the world through the eyes of your children?

    Also, I’m so glad I clicked through – the flickr pics of Olive are BEAUTIFUL! Love her eyes.

  3. Awww…perfect description. Thank you for your perspective and for writing this out. I really do cherish it. It was a very special birthday indeed.

  4. See, this is where I think my oldest is actually a 80 year old cantankerous man. She would have been anxiously looking up at the clouds and complaining about the rain and wondering if there would be thunder and FRETTING EVERY FRET.


    Beautiful post!

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