Yep, we did eat at Neato Burrito, and it was one of those rare occasions where the anticipation matched the reality. More on them in another post.
The trip out to Harrisburg was a nice trip. Grandma and Grandpa thought it would be fun to have The Boy and Little Bear ride with them, and the boys were into that, as well. They had an easy trip. The Baby, The Wife, and I left Pittsburgh after she got done with her services. We managed to time it perfectly, and The Baby slept about 2/3 of the way through the trip. It's nice to have the occasion to sit with your wife for a few hours and just talk, about everything and nothing and anything. It doesn't happen nearly often enough.
The party was wonderful. The caterers had a magnificant, simple spread: baked ziti, broccoli cheese quiche, salads, yummy cookies and brownies, fruit and veggie plate with dip, and a delicious and beautiful cake. The boys found plenty to eat. The crowd was a large mix of people from younger-than-our-baby to old folks. It was held in a gym, so there was plenty of room. The boys did what they usually do: walked around to examine everything and everyone in the room, hung around the food table until given a plate of food, sat and ate the food, then proceeded to find things with which to play.
The Boy had found a pop-up book in the playroom, and he sat at the table for a while. He read the book out loud to himself, then read to anyone who decided to sit with him. The Baby did what he usually does: wanders around the room, trying to snitch food or find something to play with or something to climb on. His favorite activity during the party was climbing up the stage at the front of the room, walking across, then climbing down the other side. Little Bear did similarly to both of his brothers - a little bit of reading, a little bit of playing and talking with whomever, and some stage work. His hitch? He had more fun jumping off the edge of the
stage than anything else.
Honestly, I really don't care if they're doing that. The stage is there, it's a family party, and the action for the party was a solid 50 feet or so from the stage. They weren't disturbing anyone. The one time when they were being too noisy was during the speeches / blessings - and The Wife and I removed The Baby and Little Bear from the room immediately. They went back inside the party after the blessings were concluded.
One of the other kids at the party was a boy a little bit older than Little Bear. He climbed up the stage and started across the stage to the other side. His mother came over, grabbed him off the stage, and scolded him while they walked away. That lead me to think: was I doing something wrong by letting the younger boys run around like that? I was right there the whole time, within arms' reach - I wasn't convinced that The Baby wasn't going to try to jump off the stage, too, and wind up flopping facefirst on the floor from 3 feet in the air. As a matter of fact, I caught Little Bear a couple of times, just for fun. That's how close I was.
What, exactly, is family party ettiquette, in regards to little boys running around? I feel like we did nothing wrong - this wasn't a fancy dinner party with religious significance and ceremony. This was a party, in a gym, for a joyous and non-wedding circumstance (meaning, not a formal ritual).
It's interesting to see the difference in how people receive you, when you go from being the parent of one or two kids to three kids. It's a huge, huge difference, because you become a pack of people instead of a small, controllable group. It's a difference when you visit people - can't really stay in a guest room at somebody's house, you need a couple of guest rooms minimum. It's a difference when you go to a restaurant or a party - five people is a table, pretty much.
My kids are, in general, quite polite and good-natured. They listen to the important stuff (know not to run around / make noise in temple, for instance) and are willing to dress in nice clothes without too much coercion. But, at this point, there is just so MANY of them (no disrespect intended to my friends who have 4 or more children, because I'm sure you know exactly what I mean). It's a gang of a family whenever we go anywhere, and we have a tendency to descend upon a place rather than arrive, particularly somebody else's home.
Who knew zone defense (as opposed to man-to-man) would make that much of a difference?
I suppose that we probably should have worked to try to get the kids to sit at a table and make nice conversation, except that is entirely missing the genetic predisposition to little boys. Little boys' first preference of activity is not sit-down-and-talk. It's run around and play with toys, or look to touch everything that is new or strange, or try find any other kids of a similar size and engage them in games. My kids do a great job of sitting down when they eat; they're focused eaters and quite delightful dinner companions, for their age. But, before and after? They can be challenging. Little boys don't like to sit except on their terms.
Particularly my kids, who are intelligent, entirely too creative, and need some brain stimulation to be happy. Or a ledge to jump off of. Whichever is good. Besides, there's something insanely cute about a happy toddler waving his hands in the air, running as fast as he can, yelling, "Ib ib ib ib ib ib!" (Intentional Gregory reference is intentional.)
Any thoughts, here, lovely readers? Did we violate party protocol?
Last picture is The Baby, who fell asleep on my shoulder at the party. He's cute.