We had a 13th birthday party for my daughter last week; decided to make it an 8th grade kick off as well. This means we invited the whole class, all genders, hoping the class would possibly get along…together. (This class has not worked since day one.) We also rented a dunk tank assuming this should be a hit; and perhaps they would forget they can’t stand each other😂.
My daughter kept warning me about the boys, she said “Mom, they have no consideration for anyone but themselves.” (Probably repeating what she had heard year after year from the teachers.)
I was getting the yard (arena) ready the night before. I ripped a piece of shipping tape off the side of the pool (kids tried to ghetto-ly hang some rope lights next to the filter. 😂) Suddenly, I feel a sharp, shooting, burning pain on side of my head. I thought for a second I electrocuted myself. Then I see a wasp flying around. I look under pool edge and there is a giant a yellow jacket nest.
I considered spraying it and removing it myself. However, when I googled what to use, it strongly advised not to do this alone. Then found some websites for bee removal services and “Swarm removal.” 😬 (Usually, I would ignorantly underestimate the situation and fearlessly proceed. Then I had a momentary flashback of THE HUNGER GAMES’ tracker jacker scene and….it is 2020.
The hive has probably been there all summer. Adults & kids have been here swimming almost daily; no one saw it or got stung. I email some of these services, receive some prices and then they explain this is a 3 step process that needs to start at dusk .
The party begins in 14 hours, there won’t be time for someone to do all these steps. I hope, pray and assume no one will see the hive. I am then distracted by a past winner, “Haymitch” who graciously drops off a cooler of Gatorade and cookies.
12pm: I notice on my phone the temperature outside is a perfect 84 degrees; I look out the window, not a cloud in the sky. The most perfect day. Despite the temperature on my smart phone, stepping outside is a different story. As I slowly slide the door open, I am hit with a humidity blast that feels like 110 blazing degrees.
I am pouring with sweat setting up the bean bag boxes and volleyball net. I stop to wipe the sweat from my brow that is stinging my eyes. As a stand still, I feel the sun searing through my sun-screened, pale af, freckled, perimenopausal skin.
12:30pm: Most of the “tributes” have arrived. The girls remain on the deck, staring wide-eyed at the boys who are violently shoving each other into the pool and holding each other underwater. The floats are mangled and destroyed within seconds. The girls remain shocked & terrified; unsure if they should enter the pool or get blistered in the sun.
1pm: The dunk tank has been delivered. As I am pulling our hoses to fill the tank, I hear “It’s a Yellowjacket!” “Omg there’s a yellow jacket nest!” “Awesome!!!”
To my horror, all the boys are now surrounding the backside of the pool armed with bean bags, a ball, whiffle bats, and a broom (where the hell did he even find that?) Immediately, I demand they drop their weapons and step away from the hive.
“You guys are going to get stung!“ I exclaim. The boys playfully reply, “No we won’t!” Or “We don’t care!” I try another tactic: “Would you care if I record you and send to your parents?” Most freeze and give that you-wouldn’t-dare-look. I glare back at them👇🏻.
All except one take the bait and retreat. The last is still laughing maniacally as he is shoving the broomstick into the heart of the tracker jackers lair. I remove the broom from the boy, he mopes away with his head down, temporarily defeated.
1:30pm: I witness the girls still standing on the deck with their mouths hanging open. I gently encourage the girls to go in the pool while boys are out. Thankfully, “Peeta” shows up with lunch!
While kids are eating, I hide the “weapons” in the basement. Then I hear a loud, thumping sound. I run outside and see a heckling boy sitting on the dunk tank seat. The boys have already begun throwing balls at the dunk tank target. The Problem is there is only one inch of water in it. I envision a Tom & Jerry episode (pic below).
Before I plummet into debt from a kid requiring extensive dental work or sustaining an injury in the empty tank; I completely over-react with a loud, shrilling, scream. Everyone looks at me, stunned. *Side note: My reaction is amplified due to the dunk tank manual boldly stating SEVERE injury should occur if dunk tank is not full or “damage to the tank will result in responsible parties assuming cost of repair.”😱🙈
2pm: I regained composure and tell the kids how high the water needs to be in the tank before they can use it. I assured them I have three hoses going and it should be full in 20 minutes. This answer pacified them and the boys retreat back into the pool, while sporadically antagonizing the bees. I notice The grass around the pool is flooded (Tick Tock Tidal Wave).
2:14pm “Someone’s been stung!” I hear repeatedly by numerous girls. (Tick Tock Tracker Jackers)
As I am searching for a sting antidote in my closet, I remember something important from my kids toddler years.. At every playdate, it was chaos the first two hours; then magically the kids started to get along. The kids had to get used to and adjust to having another kid around. Epiphany: That is what is happening now! The two hour mark is in 15 minutes!
I walk down the stairs and find the entire floor from the back door to the front is soping wet. I am blindsided with a smell of stove gas & wet dog combined with sewage. My daughter is shaking her head at me. I ask her, “For the love of God, what is that smell?” (Tick Tock: Poisonous gas) My daughters glares at me with contempt, that “mom-you’re-so-dumb” look.
“Mom! I told you this would happen! All the boys smashed into the bathroom and locked the door so we couldn’t use it! They don’t wear deodorant! Then one of them took a big dump!” My daughter exclaims.
For once, the Covid mask comes in handy as I cover my nose & mouth. I locked the front & garage door to prevent numerous, wet entries and dried the floor. I tell my daughter, “They are boys, they never hung out with you guys yet. They just need boundaries and limits; it will be okay. If not, they are leaving in 2 hours and we won’t have to do this again.”
“Two more hours of this!? UGH!” She exclaims and stomps away.
2:30pm Some of other boys have now realized that there are girls present. “Effie” shows up to help me (hallefuckinglujah!). We gather them all together to take a group picture. Immediately following the flash, the boys simultaneously charge at the girls, pushing them into the pool. The girls nervously laugh and Effie and I shrug in unison; “At least they are all in the pool together.”
The dunk tank is full. The girls huddle and watch the boys heckle, whips balls at the bullseye and dunk each other. This contained, organized activity has seemed to spark the interest of all parties. The boys surprisingly organize themselves into a line and take turns throwing and being dunked. I overhear one of the more advanced thinkers of the group (who has sisters 😂), “Aren’t we going to let the girls have a turn?”
With two other moms present to supervise, I take this opportunity to escape. I had some lunch, cooled down in the AC and changed my clothes. The fear-induced “hallucinations” begin to subside and I have an epiphany.
My yard is the “arena” and the arena in a CLOCK! Just like in Catching Fire! It’s just a GAME! Stop giving a fuck and just play the game!!!
3pm: I look outside at the “arena”. I see “Effie” & “Peeta” sitting on lounge chairs with their feet up. To my surprise, some of the kids are either playing bean bags together or making a whirlpool. What…the…
Haymitch shows up holding a 6-pack and provides some useful advice. We enjoy some cold, adult beverages as a team. We effin did it! It WORKED! We won!
I have a sip of the “adult elixir” and experience another revelation… “They are just kids! They are supposed to be assholes! It’s our job to teach them to not be! They do not know how to play the game yet! We have to teach them how to play!”
Peeta organized the bean bag tournament. The kids all sat TOGETHER and watched each other play. I couldn’t believe it. Haymitch periodically would make the kids stop and take cleaning breaks. They listened. It was an effin miracle! (A 2020 miracle …pssshhh. No way.)
The four of us are sitting around talking and laughing. Parents are starting to show up to pick up their kids; grateful for the long break from their kids after a five month quarantine.
My daughter whispers in my ear, “Can you text all the parents now before anyone else comes so everyone can stay later?”
“What!? I thought you couldn’t wait until this was over? Remember you were frustrated there was two hours left?” Stay later?!? She’s hallucinating; musta been stung by a tracker jacker. I still almost fall out of my seat.
Daughter: “Well that was before. It’s been SO fun. I never want it to end. Everyone wants to stay.”
“Yep. And…You. were. right. Mom.”
👆🏻HO.LEE.SHIT. Was not expecting that👆🏻Me, Mom…was…right?. Tears of joy welled in my eyes.