Erik's parents live about a mile south of us, just one road over. Unlike our house, which backs another, theirs backs the forest. The other night while we were barbecuing at their house, their neighbor came over to say he had seen a black bear in their backyard. Someone called Fish and Game but the neighbor just wanted to watch the bear. He gave him some cherries (probably bad idea?) and watched as the bear climbed a snag in Erik's parent's backyard.
I asked the neighbor if he'd ever seen a bear there before. He had seen another one a couple of years before. And, while out walking in the forest, he ran into a mountain lion. I had heard they were around but I guess it's not until you're standing close enough to someone that he can point and show you where he saw the mountain lion do you really believe it.
So, when I'm running in the forest now, I keep my eyes out for mountain lions. And for bears. I would say I'm about 4 anxious on a scale from 1 to 10 about running into some big wild life.
But for Zoe's birthday party, on Tuesday, her actual birthday, from 4-6 at the Starlite bowling alley, I was 9 anxious. I do not know exactly why I don't like hosting kids' birthday parties. I love to host parties at my house for grown ups. I think it has something to do with the venue. Each party place is different but they all seem to have a limit of 8 kids or then the price doubles. About half the people RSVP and about half of Max's friends come too. So I have no idea if it's going to be 8 or more or how much pizza to order and how many giftbags to stuff full of colored pencils and candy. Are the parents going to stay? Are the cupcakes going to melt? How long will it take me to make a vegetable tray from which exactly no kids will take a vegetable?
Fortunately, thanks to Erik and my friends who stayed and my in-laws who abandoned their bear-visiting house to help, it all worked out. The little kids were just one team on the bowling docket. The good bowlers helped the I-have-never-bowled-before bowlers. The pizza came. It got eaten. Zoe ate a carrot to appease me. Max played in the arcade. The bowling alley has a bar that had very bad wine for me to drink. It was, in the end, the best kids' party yet.
I hope this alleviates some anxiety, kicks it down to a 5 or so. Next year, Max turns four and I'm afraid he'll want a bowling party too.
Today, after much much micro essay writing, genre breaking essay writing and grant "final report" writing, rain barrel buying, and, now that the parties are over, I'm feeling pretty relaxed. As relaxed as the two deer that are lying in my backyard under the Ponderosa tree, as if there's not a bear or a cougar in the world.