song du jour: Weather Storm, Craig Armstrong

mood: I figure I'll be recovered by January

Mr. Metrosexual, aka The Mad Hatter, and My Hero the Man from the Gas Company

I just survived the throwing of Skyler's 6th birthday party! We've been reading Alice in Wonderland for the past month or so and decided this year's theme would be a Mad Hatter's Tea Party. My son, Mr. Metrosexual, loves tea parties. Ever since his cousin, Dima, turned him onto toy pots, pans, and tea pots when we were in Cairo back in 2001, Skyler has wanted to be a chef and host with the most. After that trip, when my mom wanted to get him a real tea set but hesitated at bending the gender roles that far, she decided perhaps she ought not to worry too much when Skyler first poured the tea and subsequently picked up the tea pot again and licked the drips off the spout.

There's nothing particularly prissy about my child. He's rough and tumble and never saw a young blond woman he didn't like, but he also despises finger paint or the feel of real clay on his hands too long and can easily go to pieces wearing any shirt with the tag still left in the back. Personally, I don't care which way his orientation goes. He is who he is, and I've always presented all toys, games, and activities with as little societal gender bias as possible, letting him pick whatever he likes. I just take a sit back and watch attitude, but it is fascinating to see a male child whose tendency is highly relational (the extreme extrovert!) and who is still ga ga about dump trucks.

So a tea party I threw, frantically trying to get my house in non-gross-out-the-adults mode, and making all the pastries and little sandwiches. My home tends to look like a toy, dust, and crumb bomb went off. Right now, it looks like a pastry, present, and wrapping paper bomb went off. Hey, for about an hour and a half somewhere in all this, the place was actually clean. I made scones, tea cakes (which are like big soft sugar cookies), eclairs, brownies, a Victoria sandwich (which is not a sexual position but rather an English cake with divine butter cream spread on every conceivable surface), cucumber & cream cheese sandwiches, egg sandwiches, ham sandwiches, and cupcakes decorated as clocks ALL organic btw. There were a couple of adults I was expecting to stay, who dropped off the kids instead and a couple of last minute cancellations, so now I have enough leftovers that I'll be frantically stuffing my face before the stuff turns furry. Yeah, sure. Come on by for tea time tomorrow! We'll feast! Earl Grey or Ceylon?

I must, though, back up a minute, and share with you, dear readers, what transpired in the hours before the big event. Yesterday, I was absolutely dragging and thinking that I was subconsciously digging my heels in at the idea of yet another day of doing something every second I was awake and didn't really want to be. Funny how we have become culturally programmed, after thinking, 'No, I don't think I'm coming down with anything." to start examining the psychological or even spiritually deficient causes for everything that feels icky in us. My mom caught a whiff of natural gas when she picked up Skyler yesterday afternoon, but, since I'd just started the oven when she arrived I blew it off as my Tuccan Sam ("the nose always knows!" ) paranoid parent, who believes my lack of equal olfactory sensibility to be practically a moral deficiency. Then I came home after decadently attending a party with some of my integral salon buds and other cool people to get the same whiffs in the midst of my cleaning frenzy before taking to baking in the wee hours. (Isn't that what everyone does when they get home from a party?)

With visions of trying to explain to a small child that his party was postponed, I gave up and called the gas company, having pin pointed the source to around the hot water heater. Just as the very polite and humorous technician from GA Gas Light (you'd have to be at that hour of the morning in potentially life threatening or totally paranoid situations) was about to dismiss it as what I caught when the hot water heater turned on, he did one more required check by sticking the sensor through the hole underneath said water heater and down into my crawl space. The thing went off like a Geiger counter finding a rare element. (I've already said 'bomb' twice in this blog. Why push my luck with Big Brother?) The technician did a very thorough search under my house while I watched at the entrance to the crawlspace, wondering whether he was going to have to shut off my ability to bake cakes, wash dishes, or shower, and pondering the weirdness that standing in such a space outside, conversing with a complete stranger I've just let into my home in the dead of night didn't even seem weird anymore in my oh so surreal life.

Turned out that I have a leak in my furnace connection. This is my furnace that I replaced less than 2 years ago. The tech said he couldn't say for sure that it was installed improperly by Estes Heating and Air (who can now officially bite me!), or that the possible crack in the fitting wasn't there all along. He could definitively confirm that the technician who performed the service call this past Monday should most certainly have noticed it, particularly since I had told that tech that I was experiencing symptoms similar to what I had experienced when the old furnace was shot and wasn't venting properly, and I had to buy the new one. I asked if Estes shouldn't have had a the same kind of sensor to pick up any leaks. He gave me a look of severity and said, "Integrity is expensive." Mercifully, only the gas to the furnace had to be shut off, and it's warmed up here again. The party was on...even with an overly stressed out, exhausted hostess. FYI, something everyone should know. A carbon monoxide detector will only register CO2 if it is in the could kill you range. Between the 'O' of ok and the '1' of get out(!), there is a range that won't kill your but can make you quite sick. I've decided, after 2 episodes of fumes, the damned thing is only good to wake me up in the dead of night if a car backs into my living room.

The kids decorated hats, which, with all the glitter glue, ended up being too wet to wear thru the tea event, but they had a great time while I got all the vast varieties of sugar on the table. There was a moment in all the complete chaos and the insanity of doing all this by myself when all the kids were around the table full of pleases and thank yous and "would you like some more tea?" that I was totally enraptured by how civilized these little creatures were, and all the other moms and friends just watched in amazement. Later on the kids all got locked in Skyler's room with the screwed up catch on door that they didn't know is to remain open at all times! Normally this is an inconvenience remedied by a pair of scissors where the doorknob should be, but somehow the thing wouldn't open at all. With 7 kids and one mom on the inside, and an audience of all the other adults in the hallway, my mother, who already seems to generally regard me as somewhat of a clueless failure at hostessing, worked the catch, while I repeatedly threw my body against the door (like in the movies) to force it open. It gave, and there in the lead was Sophie, my metalsmithing teacher Gia's oldest daughter, standing in Skyler's new Harry Potter cape, holding the spell book in one hand, and the wand in the other, exclaiming "My spell worked!!!" It's an event no one is likely to forget, least of all The Mom.

Skyler and the gang
(at my fab Japanese style table that Jean refers to as, "the dining room table for people 5' and under").


Jean said...

This is where I go "awwwww" again. Would it surprise you to know amongst my hat collection I have a real live Mad Hatter hat - no I didn't think so. I would have Fed Exed to you if I'd known! Love and smooches to you and birthday boy.

ebuddha said...

very nice -

There's nothing quite so heartwarming (but stressful) as a party for six to eight year olds.

At these parties (I've been to a few!) I play the role of rabble-rouser - I throw the kids around, run with them, be foolish, etc - until they are as hyped up as crystal meth head - and then I protest "you've tired me out", I retire to the quiet room, and leave the the resulting frenzy of out-of-control children to the harassed mom at hand.

Then I never hear from the mom again!


victoria said...

thanks, guys!

No, Jean, I'm not surprised. Is it like Tom Petty's? Can I wear it when I finally visit? Out to dinner, maybe?

ebuddha, I have a friend, who did that to my son a couple of weeks ago, and he's still apologizing. :-) Sounds like you're every kids fav (and every mom's stress fest!). ;-)