Later this month, my son turns two, which means that I’ll be hosting a thrilling birthday bash for him. Cake, presents, maybe a couple other drooling toddlers. It’ll be this way for a while; birthdays that you just have to endure, especially once they actually get old enough to realize “Oh shit, today’s all about me. Time to be a sugar-high induced little asshole with all my little asshole friends!” You’ll do your part and serve your time. Drinking your one to two beers, you’ll play along: “Oh yeah, look at the fire truck,” and “Oh, cool action figure gift buddy, I’m sure I won’t destroy my foot on it one day when you leave it in the middle of the floor,” and of course “Oh, don’t worry friend of my son, you can wipe your filthy frosting covered hands on my pants.”
Keep biding your time, because that child and his friends will keep aging. Greener pastures are coming, and the immature kid barely containing himself in you is going to have his chance to shine. You’ll have to endure the early pain of petting zoos and shitty magicians, but eventually your reward has to come, right? Can’t admit it to anyone, but you’re looking forward to your kid developing a more exciting taste in birthday activities, until of course you experience things you loved in the past that aren’t quite the same.
It’s time to go to war, boys. It’s been too long since you’ve been on the smoky, poorly-ventilated battlefield of a laser tag arena, but now it’s time to show your son and his little shit friends how it’s done. The vest fits a little snugger than usual, and that goes double for your parent friend Bart who weighs close to three bills and whose kid isn’t as much of a dick as the others. You both took a pre-game swig of Fireball in the parking lot and decided to let your full immaturity come out to rage. No mercy on these punks.
Laser pointer guns blazing, you sprint into the arena surrounded by high-pitched screaming pre-teens. While your initial burst of adrenaline hasn’t been this high since you were hunting down the giant wasp that flew into your office, the reality of what you’re staring at is starting to set in. In your advanced age, the laser battlefield that used to be filled with large towers and hideouts seems more like one that was built out of empty refrigerator boxes. These god damn kids are moving around like little cockroaches, and you can’t tell if the targets have gotten smaller, or if you just should’ve worn your glasses.
Halfway through the round, Bart gives up and sits down around a corner and tries to catch the breath that a minute of jogging took out of him. You spend the rest of your round being tailed by your son’s least favorite friend, Timmy (Codename: Little Bastard), who takes pleasure shooting you over, and over, and over. You come in last and inhale shitty pizza for the rest of the day.
“I feel the need… the need for speed! …..What do you mean you kids haven’t seen that movie? God dammit.” Go-Carts used to be the tits back in your day, and it’s time to show these kids how a pro drives. I mean fuck, you’re the only one here with a license since Bart couldn’t meet the size requirements to fit in his cart. These kids need to know that it doesn’t matter if you win by an inch or a mile.
Unfortunately, your own personal birthday celebration 500 is a letdown from the start. Go-Carts don’t provide much of a rush once you realize that flooring it off the line gives you about half the boost as tapping the gas pedal of a Camry. It gives you some slight joy to see that your offspring got that one cart that’s faster than everyone else’s, but somehow, and you suspect the grown adult with braces who manages the carts, you ended up with the slowest one. As you get passed up by kid after kid, you notice someone keeps trying to send you into the wall when they pass you. After flying into the rails, your cart spins, and there’s Timmy grinning like a bastard.
The Local Theme Park
This is perfect. Finally, something that’s absolutely as good as when you used to enjoy it. You jumped for joy when your kid said he wanted to have a party at Six Flags and started planning your ride itinerary immediately. The love of roller coasters that consumed you made you ignore the fact that you may have to re-finance your house to afford to take all of your child’s ungrateful friends to this place. Who cares, they’re all old enough to ride coasters now; they can’t make you hate this.
Three hours of guiding this nagging ass group from ride to ride and you’re praying for it to end. In your youth, you circled this park twice over, riding everything multiple times. Now you don’t understand how your feet and legs could endure such hell, as it feels like you’ve walked to Mordor and back. All you want to do is enjoy a damn roller coaster, but after losing members of the pack three separate times, and having to show off your horrific dad-bod at the waterpark, you’re ready to pack it in.
Since it’s his birthday, you can’t refuse your kid’s final ride request: the extremely below average, cartoon character-named four-person roller coaster. Wild guess as to who’s sitting across from you and who ate a ton of nachos with borderline stale cheese on them? Halfway through, this playground slide falsely proclaiming itself to be a roller coaster and the little shitbag Timmy is looking rough. The final twist greets you with Timmy’s nachos coming back to say hello, making your favorite Hawaiian shirt look like a tablecloth at Guy Fieri’s restaurant after a dog has eaten diarrhea off it.
Time to pack it in on your kid’s birthdays. You tried your best. Things just aren’t what they used to be. Set a reminder to rage with him on his 21st, and try to convince yourself that you won’t go home by 10 p.m. .
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