Kids, a birthday and a baseball bat

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 9, 2008

Let me just say this up front: Construction-hazard orange and lime-green should never be worn together. In fact, I’m pretty sure I read of a recent study in which colorologists proved the combination, except in rainbow sherbet, can cause severe nausea in middle-aged men. Adults caught wearing the two colors together should be subject to waterboarding.

That said, isn’t it amazing how an 11-year-old can change your priorities?

Celebrating the last of our grandchildren’s birthdays for the rest of the calendar year last Saturday, the Spears family found itself committing crimes against fashion for the love of an 11-year-old girl with a young artist’s sense of aesthetics.

Frankly, though, I was less worried about the Clash-of-the-Frightening color scheme she’d chosen for her party’s theme than I was when I first saw the bat and heard the word “pinata.” Much as I desire to one day get a check for $100,000, I never want it to have been earned by my own appearance on “America’s Funniest Home Videos.”

Mommy had made individual lunchbag-pinatas, which, as it turns out, were the perfect size for underhanded pitching. We invented the pinata-baseball variation after watching just one pre-teen crazy person wildly swinging an aluminum bat at a target he had no chance of hitting.

Our church’s youth pastor, who was helping out with the party, is a much larger target than was the paper bag, and I began to worry whether our homeowner’s insurance premium was paid, so I exercised my veto right as a grandpa. Beware, though, because pinata-baseball is not without its own risks: I would suggest wearing safety glasses.

It really is amazing what silliness you can get a group of too-cool-for-all-that kids to participate in if you just wrap it up in a birthday party theme and offer a 50-cent prize or two for the winners.

A cream-pie challenge left faces covered in Cool Whip during the 11-year-old’s party this weekend, and I even got to “help” one poor girl from our church group by pressing the pie tin into her face so she could get to the gum hidden at the bottom. Last month, I watched Mommy at my 9-year-old grandson’s Star Wars party as she twisted the hair of every little girl into the honeybun curls of Princess Leia.

I was watching out for Social Services workers, or maybe the police, but every one of his little girlfriends waited patiently for her turn. Maybe it helped that they knew how much he wants to be Luke Skywalker. In my limited experience, 9-year-old girls would do just about anything to be involved in that kind of classic romance.

Typically, though, this 9-year-old boy was oblivious to all the little Leias and their honeybuns. There were just too many foam-noodle light saber battles to be fought to worry about love.

The most sedate of the three grandchildren’s birthday parties, of course, was that of our 4-year-old grandson, who isn’t yet in school and thus had no friends to invite. Even when your party’s theme is Cars, it’s hard to get a roomful of pre-geriatric adults revved up for game time. Most of us were just waiting for naptime, which we expected to follow on the heels of the birthday-cake sugar rush.

My birthday’s next in the Spears household — the same day as Boss’ Day, for those who’d like to send gifts — and I haven’t yet chosen the theme for my party. One thing’s for sure, though. There won’t be any baseball bats involved.

R.E. SPEARS III is a staff writer for The Tidewater News. His e-mail address is