And by sun dance, I don’t mean Robert Redford. I mean shakin’ your thang the way the Mayans and Incas did so that the Sun God would be generous and give you the glorious weather you needed to pull off the event you’re so worked up about. For the Mayans, it was probably a virgin sacrifice. For me, it was a suburban park picnic birthday party for a three-year-old girl and her posse.
Normally, I’m not so obsessed with the meteorological, but April had given me just cause for concern–last weekend dumped so much rain so hard so fast that I expected Noah’s Ark to float by, and the previous weekend, Easter Sunday, it snowed. We sat there eating our Easter buffet dinner at the restaurant and watched the Manhattan skyline turn into a tchotche snowglobe–the real deal you see in the tourist shops, just life-size. So there was good reason for feeling twitchy about an outdoor picnic birthday party. I won’t go into the embarrassing details about what kind of sun dance I did or how I did it. All I will say is that I know what works and that my interpretive dance resembled sequences from Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto.
I rented a pavilion at Van Saun Park, which I had booked back in February. This county park is a parent’s dream because it features three different playgrounds, a zoo, a train, pony rides, and a carousel all in one spot. The park also features a fair share of pushy, entitled grown ups. Because of the gorgeous weather, everyone and their mother (and grandmother, it seemed) was out enjoying the park, and I can’t tell you how many times I had to shoo away pesky picnickers trying to picnic in my reserved (and paid for) pavilion. I have to admit, I started feeling territorial after the fourth passerby asked to use our reserved pavilion, and I wondered whether there were socially appropriate ways for a ticked off 34-year-old suburban mother to mark her territory. What could I smear or spray that would make people go away? Apple juice? Frosting? Bourbon? Believe me, I wasn’t afraid of crossing any lines.
In between fending people off and telling not-so-shy New Jersey families that this pavilion was reserved for a private party, I actually enjoyed myself, and so did Mike, and so did Anna. By the end of the party, Anna was covered in dirt, frosting, and snot, and really, isn’t that what it means to be three?