(This article appeared in the February 16, 2001 issue of the
Observation Post, the base newspaper for Twentynine Palms,
Capt Jason D. Grose
7th Marines Regimental Adjutant
Mayhem. Lamenting of the injured. Battle damage. Care for
the wounded. This was the aftermath of my son’s 9th birthday.
For those of you that have children, you understand. For those
of you that don’t and are looking forward to having a crew of
these “little wonders,” read the rest of this article.
Don’t get me wrong, I love kids but throw 5 rambunctious
9 year old boys and one 6 year old sister together and you get
a night of pure patience-testing, endurance stretching that
rivals anything I ever faced in boot camp or OCS.
It started out innocently enough. The boy wanted to have
a sleepover for his birthday party. The invitations went out,
the RSVPs came in, and the fun was set. We set up our massive
family tent in the backyard where we could condemn, er, provide
them with an outside adventure.
Then we got a taste of things to come.
As the wind kicked up, our tent was almost the biggest kite
in the neighborhood so we moved it into the garage just in time
as the first guests showed up. The parents looked at us with
a mixture of sympathy and gratitude. “God bless you and whatever
happens, remember that there is always tomorrow.” Smiles and
evil laughter were the last expressions witnessed as they sped
off for the night.
There is a chemical reaction when more than two boys get
together. This reaction expands exponentially as you add more
boys in the mix so that, all tolled, our little group had the
energy expenditure approximately approaching (and I will use
the scientific term here) a bazillion times more than a kid
hopped up on pixie sticks. In other words, well, there are no
Walking through what was once my domain, you could
see the scorched earth manner in which the Blurs (as I affectionately
refer to them) systematically reduced my house to a pile of
Bathroom door open, light on, toilet seat up, a rather disturbing
amount of something really bad in the bowl with an equally disturbing
amount of toilet paper (I estimate 3/4 of a roll) matted inside.
“Plunger UP!” No attempt to hide it and no responsibility identified.
You gotta love the little trooper who had to feel a whole lot
“Daddy, can you fix this? One of the boys broke it” was
the question from my daughter as she brought me the new safe
my son had received for Christmas. Yes, they broke a safe. How?
I do not know but scientists should study this.
Speaking of the daughter, you can imagine how the lone little
girl reacted to all this. “Hi Steph” I said at one point and
that prompted shameless tears to literally burst out of her
face. She couldn’t sleep in the tent. More water works. A fly
buzzed in front of her: her world falls apart. So we had to
take time out and spend special time with her that included
a motorcycle ride, a trip to the pet store, and a movie with
just her and I. Good thing there were no ponies for sale!
Back to the fray. Five boys, one girl, 3 pizzas, a dozen
sodas, 1 large birthday cake, a tub of ice cream, two dozen
juice boxes, 1 1/2 batches of waffles (only 1/2 batch actually
eaten), a bag of chips, a gallon of milk, a day of setup, and
a day of clean up. I will not include the amount of toilet paper
because I have already mentioned it and it conjures up such
Let me add right here that my wife and I are dead center
in a two week diet where we cannot have any sugars or carbs.
Suffice it to say Hell I hath seen and thy name is party food.
My wife and I scraped plates with teary eyes. Oh, the humanity!
That night, we finally herded them into the garage and into
the tent where we had two mattresses set up. Note that we spent
a considerable amount of time setting up this tent in the backyard
and then moved it into the garage, dragging down a mattress
from upstairs for their comfort. But as they sat in there, the
spooky stories came out and when my wife went to check on them
at 2300, they all screamed. It seems that they scared themselves
silly and no one was brave enough to leave the tent. When the
cavalry arrived in the form of a Mom (obviously not an ego had
developed yet), they all scampered out like cats on fire and
ran for the bathrooms. Yes, they would have had a cold wet night
in their sleeping bags for fear of the monsters they had conjured
Now we had five boys sleeping in the living room and come
about 0700, the machine started up again: the energy packets
had been revitalized. Like a bootcamp assembly line, my wife
and I made waffles and milk, ensuring all had their fill before
they were sent home. Oh yes, feed those fires with extra syrup
and let their parents deal with the result. Revenge is a dish
best served cold.
At 0930 the next morning we dealt the final vengeance blow.
Saving the party bags for the end, we gave each boy a small
bag with party horns, candy, little cars, Styrofoam airplanes,
and the coupe de grais: whoopee cushions. Now it was our turn
for the evil laughter.
At 1000, relief approached and as each parent arrived to
claim their precious little angel, we assured them that everything
had gone smoothly. In case you did not know, this is the little
ploy we parents use on each other to make the other think “Well,
if it was not that bad, maybe I will do the same when my boy’s
birthday rolls around.”
We will be waiting for the invitations. Now where did I
put those pixie sticks?