Vail Novice Father: Birthday girl |

Vail Novice Father: Birthday girl

Kelly Coffey
Novice Father
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado – My toddler daughter’s advanced for her age: she’s acted like a demanding two-year old well before her time. This past week it became official. We just celebrated my two-year old daughter’s birthday.

The night before, the Kid and I made a special birthday hat out of construction paper, ribbon, crayons and mermaid stickers. I wrote a carefully placed No. two on the center of the cone hat. The Kid, much less carefully, added her own adornments with a liberal hand.

Part of being a two-year old is claiming ownership of everything. That hat instantly became “mine.” And an emphatic “mine,” at that. It’s her second favorite word behind “no.” I was excited about having children over since it’s one more opportunity for the Kid to learn to share.

From the start of the party planning process, I wanted to keep the whole deal low key. I kept away from the clowns and moon-bounces, opting for a handful of balloons and light party favors instead. The guest list, however, took on a life of its own. The Kid’s just too popular.

When still in the planning phase we didn’t think a swollen guest list would cause problems. The Wife and I assumed we would have everyone in our backyard, enjoying the sun, kicking balls in the grass, eating appetizers while sitting on picnic blankets. All stuff we did last year.

This year we found out the problem with planning spring birthdays: the weather can be August Tucson warm or January Fairbanks cold. This day’s weather turned out to be closer to the later: cold, rainy and windy. We didn’t have the heart to exile any of our guests to the bitter outdoors.

Though the party wasn’t until late afternoon, we spent the whole day getting ready for it. The Wife grabbed vacuum cleaner and mop. I grabbed my car keys and grocery list. I spent the morning picking up balloons, finger foods, kid-friendly beverages, and-most importantly –adult-friendly beverages.

By the time the first guest arrived, the house was the cleanest it has been in two years. Once guests arrived, however, the house raced from clean to not even close to clean in Guinness World Record timing.

That’s what happens when you pack a living room with running toddlers and the parents who try to ignore them. The noise and chaos reached critical mass for such a tight space. I attempted a conversation with one parent friend. It was like trying to explain municipal zoning codes in the front row of an AC/DC concert. When I left the couch to head to the kitchen, I navigated through an undulating maze of living obstacles. I felt like a contestant on a Japanese game show.

Fortunately, we strategically placed the party between naptime and dinnertime. By 7 p.m. the room cleared out and only a handful of the most diehard parents remained. We could at last use our inside voices. I no longer had to share my personal space.

The benefits of inviting only kids and parents: nobody made a fuss when the Kid double dipped her carrot into the red-pepper flavored hummus … again and again and again. It’s her party, after all. No need to share the veggie dip. If you can’t do that during your second birthday party, then when can you do it?

Some days after the party I asked the Kid what part of her birthday party was her favorite.

“Cupcakes,” she said with a fat smile.

Kelly Coffey is a novice father. He shares his mistakes, fears, and laughs along his journey to figure out how anybody could possibly raise a child. E-mail comments or questions about this column to

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