The Loh Life is writer/performer Sandra Tsing Loh's weekly take on life, family, and pop culture in early 21st century Southern California.
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The Wild Party, Part Four: Jumanji

Sandra Tsing Loh throws a successful party for her tween daughter.

Five days before the big day, my daughter Suzy's 12th birthday party had very few RSVPs.  Though perhaps, in raiding the school email list and reaching out to individual parents, I have overcompensated.  We're up to 14 RSVPs, which is more than I really want, for a Friday night party with optional sleepover - But I figure there will be attrition.

The first sign of trouble is after school, when I'm picking up children.  I won't say how many children will officially fit in my car, nor how many children were there, but I'll admit I wished there had been one less.  It was surprising how quickly they folded themselves into sardine can position, like this was a drill they had done many times before.  The extra tween manned my chiming cell phone, where a girl named Tammy was texting for the address.  "Tammy?  Which Tammy?" Suzy asks.  She invited two.

I gingerly make it back home via side streets by 4:00, and everyone is STARVING.  The pizzas are supposed to arrive when the party starts at 6 and so, as if in a dream, I get out the skillet and start making quesadillas.  We now have six tweens running around our backyard, and it is three too many.  Those creatures are big - By that, I mean the girls, not the boys, who are four feet tall but are busy punching each other.

I realize I should have had each parent sign a release.  Because more kids are coming, including several who not only did not RSVP - "Glen?  Hi, Glen!  Who's Glen?" - I'm not sure they're even at the right place.  I have prepared a Yankee Swap present game for 14 kids, now I have 20.  There had been 14 decent gifts.  Now, I'm frantically throwing stuff into gift bags - stale Halloween candy, kitchen sponges, a tennis ball - trying to ignore the fact that these are technically wine bags.

Meanwhile, it's like Jumanji - you don't know what these monkey-like tweens will do next.

One girl has picked up a flash drive shaped comically like a skateboard off of my desk, and is rolling it across the floor.  Boys are pulling down helium balloons and inhaling them to make mouse voices.  OMG - can you get high off of helium?

Suddenly, a dozen children run out the gate and down the street, with me running after them, yelling, "I am texting your parents right now!"  To which an angel-faced blonde replies: "What they don't know won't hurt them!"  I chase them back into the corral, and bolt the gate.  It's like "The Walking Dead."  I'm half-tempted to hit them over the head with a shovel!

But, order is quickly restored and, at 10, many well-rested parents return, sparkle-eyed, from dinner.

Suzy is happy.  She says all we were missing was bunnies!  Next year.