The Dormouse was invited to a birthday party the weekend before last. Between being sick and being away from my desk at work where the dock for my phone sits, I'm just getting around to pulling the crappy pictures off my camera phone because I had forgotten my real camera that day. Aside: I bought my phone for its abilities to handle my email and not for the camera part of the phone. The camera part just came with the package. But I'm not really sure why anyone needs a camera in their phone if this is the best it can do with photography. I think I might have gotten a better image by handing one of the kids a crayon and asking them to draw what happened on a brick wall outside the bowling alley.

On the way to the party, this conversation could be overheard in the car:

Dormouse: "Maybe, if I'm very smart at the birthday party, I will get some

Me: "That's important to remember, because the dumb kids don't get cake."

KoH: "Yeah... the dumb kids get carrots... they just don't know it's not cake."

Right. She should have no problem understanding sarcasm by the time she's five.
If you don't have a thick skin, you have no business being a member of our family.

If you ever want to truly know what the phrase "herding cats" means,
try renting three lanes at the local duckpin bowling alley, putting five kids on each and giving them small, hard objects to throw at the ground. It was an exercise in hilarity. We met the hosts there and as the mom was setting everything up and trying to get the alley personnel to find fifteen pairs of bowling shoes under a kids' size 11, we chatted. She said to me in her lovely Jamaican accent, "Ugh. I don't know what I was thinking, inviting fifteen kids to go bowling. What. Is. The. Matter. With. Me?"

I said, "I know what you were thinking: that you didn't want them all in
your living room."

"Good point."

Still, I don't think I would have signed up for that kind of torture. You're a better mom than I am, Gunga Din.

For some reason, I ended up as the scorekeeper for our group so I had a good vantage point to learn about each of the kids and their respective styles while they attempt
ed to knock down pins. Don't tell anyone, but I have NO IDEA how to score duckpin bowling. Ultimately, I didn't figure it mattered as I was pretty sure none of the four year olds knew either and weren't likely to challenge me. I figured what would make the most sense to them was to just keep a running total of how many pins they knocked down overall and decided to forego the strike/spare/etc. conventions. In the end, I'm not even sure that I added everything correctly when I tried. Two of the kids were siblings and they got a little competitive with one another. I'm not saying I cheated or anything. I'm just saying it seemed easier all the way around if they tied each other after each frame. KnowhatImean?

I'm sure there are some parents out there who disagree with my scorekeeping style and feel that I should have given them the chance to experience the wins and losses that life will inevitably throw at them and how are they going to grow up one day and lose the race for the President of the United States with dignity and professionalism if they never got a chance to practice good sportsmanlike skills back at the bowling alley when they were four? To them, I say: Do you even know how loud someone has to be to make a scene in a bowling alley on a Saturday afternoon? You deal with a four year old throwing a fit because his younger brother knocked one more pin down than he did.

The Dormouse's style was clearly to enjoy the entire process and in stark contrast to the kid who pouted in a corner when his brother edged ahead of him, she celebrated each and every pin knocked down, as well as a few gutter balls.

"Yay!! Did you see? I knocked down TWO PINS!! Woo hoo!" gives double thumbs up sign as she jumps up and down. I'm guessing she'll never be a professional bowler as I'm pretty sure she used three balls to knock down those two pins.

However, she often grew bored while waiting for her ball to make it's way down to the end of the alley and had to lie down and take a rest. To be fair, it did take awhile. I kind of felt like lying down
in the twenty minutes it took for the ball to reach the pins too.

Then there was the girl who could barely get the ball all the way down the alley. We parents grew horse yelling, "Theeeeeeere. Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit. Gooooooes!!!!!! It won't be long now! Almost there!" but we all managed to resist the urge to walk up to the slow moving ball and kick it. When three years was up and the ball finally made its way to the end, it would stop in front of the one pin and slightly tap it, causing a domino-like chain reaction and knocking down every pin there and some on the adjacent lane. I think she may have bowled a perfect game. That girl needs to join the Pro Bowlers' Association, now.

After the bowling portion of the afternoon, all the children adjourned to a long, narrow room with no ventilation to eat really bad bowling alley pizza and Spiderman cake. There wasn't really a lot of room for parents in the room so the KingofHearts, the Caterpillar and I opted to wait on the outside of the room and order slightly less bad bowling alley bur
gers while the kids inside filled their gullets with cholesterol and sugar.

Some of the other parents crowded around the doorway to watch the melee and at one point, one of the moms turned around, shot me a glance and said, "Ready? Are you ready?" I couldn't figure out a) if she was talking to me and b) what she meant if she was talking to me until this image from Stephen King's book, It, came running around the corner:

"They all float down here."