In My Ohio

On the Princess Birthday Party

Darren C. Demaree
My daughter, Isabelle, turned five at the end of August. To celebrate the occasion we invited friends and family over to the house for a party. For the first time, Isabelle had some real input on the guest list, and five of her newly established friends were invited over. To add some flair to the normal gathering we added a theme to the party, and since her opinion had been granted birthday-sway, Belle chose princesses. So, my wife made a castle cake (an impressive effort), there was a craft table set up outside so they could make crowns and wands, and we had a truck-full of glitter brought to us from the glitter mines of Cute, Alaska. What followed that afternoon would redefine the parameters of common anthropologic studies. What followed was much more like play in three acts, with each little girl executing different roles at different points, but never declaring as such, and never slowing down to give the audience a chance to adjust.

Act I 
Girls, A, B, C, D, and E arrive at the Princess Party. Isabelle reminds everyone individually that it is her birthday. Dressed like a princess already, Isabelle leads all of the girls upstairs to establish that this is her house, and that her room is the most important room in the house. She lays claim to her mother, her father (me), her little brother, and once ownership of such is secure she rushes past the rest of the guests to her gang of five. She leads them to her swing set, introduces her dogs, and makes sure everyone has some of the strawberry lemonade. Everything is hers, but she is willing to share. Go forth, bask in everything her queendom contains, and keep on her hip because this girl is moving fast. Girl B should have taken a nap, because she is already curled up in her mother’s lap. A cup of lemonade, and she is back to it. They race inside and outside and back inside. The dogs have abandoned any thought of keeping up with them, and have boxed out the locations where food is mostly like to fall.

Act II 
Isabelle and her gang of five are in full princess mode. They are making their crowns, their wands, and either giving themselves fake princess names or claiming those already established by famous princesses (punches are almost thrown when the sisters of Frozen are claimed by all of them in the first two seconds), and as if they have just won the Super Bowl they dump a Gatorade cooler’s worth of glitter all over their bodies. Like demented sand, the glitter has now taken over the house. Years from now we will burn the house down to dampen the enthusiasm of the glitter, and when one pink atom attempts to hop away I will be waiting with a friend’s rifle. They are all full princesses at this point, not only does this mean that all walk on their toes a little bit more, but it means that the rooms have all gotten smaller. That much royalty in a house as small as ours causes some real issues. They all have their courts (panicked parents still hoping to finish that first plate of vegetables and hummus), they have their rivals (which is Isabelle at this point, because it is her birthday and not theirs), and they have the playthings they must do before they leave (all of them conflicting). The cake arrives and they are revived by the castle image and the sugar.

Act III 
Dénouement primed, the sugar and the afternoon begin to wane, and the territorial nature of the supreme beings of the party has taken over. You see one or two of them together, but the gang of five has been disbanded. Princess Isabelle has finally granted time to her grandparents, her godparents, her aunts and uncles. She is even on the phone talking to family that couldn’t make the party. She has duties. The first princess starts to cry. She’s done. She wants to go home, and she wants to go home now. Any regalia they carried with them has been left strewn about in different rooms of the house. My wife and I are still physically engaged in the party, but the best parts of us have retreated to the recesses of our frightened psyche. The veterans, grandparents and the like, leave quickly, as they know it is much better to be gone from a place when the war stops. Reconstruction is terrible work. The princesses don’t necessarily leave, but seem to vanish into a cloud of petty disputes about putting socks back on and spills of one last glass of lemonade. We are left with the remaining princess, who would be passed out on the couch if there weren’t a mountain of presents left for her to open. I carry everything from the back deck, unable to speak; I do my best to appear strong. My wife orders pizza. We put on a video. Nobody does good work. Nobody has the guts to bring up that our son is turning two in a month, and we’ve already decided upon a dinosaur theme.