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Houston, We Have a 5-Year-Old!

So, here’s something to add to my Mother of the Year application: I unintentionally handed out tobacco paraphernalia to about 44 5-year olds at Mikey’s birthday party.

Let’s backtrack…

Mikey has gone to the same day care since he was a toddler, so he has grown up with the same group of kids through from toddler class, to the 2s, 3s and then 4s/preschool. However, when he started pre-kindergarten, a lot more kids were added to the program, I’m assuming because there are kids who don’t need child care up until that point, and are added to the program at that age to prepare for kindergarten.

Anyway, the group of kids he grew up with was split into two, and mixed with the newer students. When it came time to send out invites, we knew he wanted to invite his whole class, but there were a bunch of kids in the other class that he wanted to invite, as well. We felt bad selecting certain kids, so we figured, what the heck, we’ll just invite both full classes.

When I asked the teachers for a head count, I was told there were 20 kids – in each class. (Gulp… That’s a lot of kids.)

However, I was certain a good percentage wouldn’t be able to come.

I was wrong. We got 32 “yes” replies from classmates. Then there were the seven cousins we threw in the mix. And the one friend of the family.

I was starting to panic with 40 confirmed kids, and then the week of the party, I got a few more replies from people who were just finding the invite stuffed in a random pocket of their child’s backpack.

“Is it too late to accept the invite?”

“Of course not! Can’t wait to see you.” (I start to sweat.)

I also got a few, “Is it OK if a sibling comes?”

“Sure! The more the merrier.” (I begin biting my nails.)

There were also two last-minute cancellations, who originally said they would come but then came down will illness. “Oh, no! Peter has a fever?” (Fist pump!) “What a bummer. We will miss him but hope he feels better!”

And then there were the handful of people I got no response from, and I couldn’t decide if I should reach out to them and ask for a reply, or just let it go. Honestly, I didn’t want to remind anyone who may have forgotten, and therefore add to the guest list. So I just laid low on that front.

We rented half the gym at the local recreation center and opted for an indoor bounce house for the first hour and a magic show for the second hour. With the total nearing about 44 kids, each with at least one adult, I was doing the math in my brain and as I did so, the space got smaller and smaller in my head.

Since the party was mid-afternoon, we opted not to do pizza or any formal “meal,” and instead just had snacks and cake. So we didn’t have to buy several-hundred-dollars’ worth of pizza, but we did need to have enough seating for all the kids to sit and eat cake.

And we needed to make enough goodie bags for all the kids – and enough to cover anyone who may show up who didn’t RSVP.

I didn’t sleep for three nights leading up to the party. However, soon as we walked into the gym to start setting up, I knew it would all be fine. The space was huge. (I take a deep breath – everything would be fine.)

If kids had to rotate in the bounce house, we had craft activities to keep them busy while they waited. But that wasn’t even a problem because the teenager who came with the bounce house to apparently monitor kids going in and kids coming out was sleeping on the job, so I’m pretty sure all 44 kids were in there at once.

And there was only one crying child – but whatever it was, it had to be minor because she got over it very quickly.

Then it was time for the magic show, which was a hit! All the kids were absolutely engaged and followed right along. The magician even brought a bunny, a snake and tarantula. (I allow myself to actually enjoy the party.)

My mother-in-law cut about 75 pieces of blue Sonic the Hedgehog cake at breakneck speed, and before we knew it, kids with blue-stained lips were grabbing their goodie bags and heading on their merry way.

Most of the families were gone and I was just ready to pat myself on the back for another successful party in the books when a mom came up to me and notified me that the “magic wands” that my husband and I ordered from Amazon for the goodie bags were, in fact, prop cigarette holders meant to accompany a flapper costume or another 1920’s outfit.

Upon closer inspection, I could see that the white end was pinched and had a hole in it, where you would inhale. The other end was silver and came out, so you could put a cigarette in it.

I asked my husband: Did we seriously just give out fake cigarette holders to four dozen 5-year-olds?!

If we get let into the town’s Easter egg hunt this year, it will be a miracle.

Holly Crocco is editor of the Putnam County Times/Press and mother of a 5-year-old. She can be reached at


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