JESSE TISE

I can say with absolute confidence that I can better identify birds by their song than distinguish one three-year-old’s caterwaul from that of 30 others. So, I made my way through a park full of toddler birthday parties, passing through each one shouting, “Who’s the birthday girl?! Who’s the birthday girl?!”

Before drawing too much negative attention to myself, I found the correct party. The single father who had made the arrangements requested that no one bring gifts, which we’ve established numerous times is my trademark contribution to any party—a generous handful of nothing. Though I enjoy being the hip singleton at children’s parties, there was something to be said for the host also being single, although I was still the only one without my child by my side, on my feet, or all up in other people’s faces.

Edible items included beer for the adults, La Croix for all, tortilla chips, wasabi peas, and olives. If this column hasn’t already made you fall in love with our fair city, imagine a congregation of toddlers and their keepers exclaiming “OMG! I love wasabi peas!” Side note: I just decided “OMG! I Love Wasabi Peas!” will be the title of my anthology of party reviews.

As splendid and generous as all the other food items were, my eyes were set on the watermelon. But I was still a tad uneasy when the platter was set directly in front of me. Like, “Of course, I’ll eat all this melon, but not in front of the others.” Never one to look a gift horse in the mouth (and sadly, there were no ponies or gift horses present), I sat and ate that melon platter, while getting repeatedly bopped about the head by a festive trio of yellow, pink, and green balloons.

Also in attendance was the obligatory child in a Batman mask and a kilt, armed with two Lego blocks his mother had stuck together and convinced him was Optimus Prime. That’s just prime parenting. If you’re not cheating to fulfill the toy requests of your toddler, you’re wasting valuable years of your child not questioning anything you say. People complain about toddlers, but I know of no other stage of life when satisfaction is so easily attained or parents can feel more competent by keeping their child alive. Every parent of a toddler possesses magic powers to transform any object into any more expensive object their toddler has demanded.

This kilt-clad Batman toddler was a smart one, too. As the gorging commenced, Batman filled his plate and grabbed a spare for future food expeditions. Having devoured the contents of plate number one, he returned with his reserve plate, holding it in one hand, while eating directly from the serving bowls and platters with his other fist—because it doesn’t look like you’re eating right out of the bowl with your bare hands, so long as you’re holding a plate. It was brilliant! (Earning this party the full 10 points.)