A few weeks ago, Luca received a birthday card invitation that read “A Birthday Party You Have Been Invited To.” And there was a little green elf holding a green laser sword. His name is Yoda and his existence guaranteed I would be the parent attending this party.
We arrived four minutes early, as is the Hamann way, and sat in the car waiting for the party to start. We wondered if Darth Vader would be in attendance. We wondered if there would be Star Wars goodie bags. We wondered if J.J. Abram’s contribution to the franchise would live up to fans’ inflated expectations.
The party itself was delightfully do-it-yourself. Instead of buying a bunch of overpriced store stuff (which I would totally do), the party included “Jedi Tag,” which was just like regular tag but featured 30 kids pretending to be Star Wars guys. The Dad (Who had at least 2 Star Wars wardrobe changes. We are going to be friends) also constructed a Jedi training obstacle course that involved leaping over space firewood and sliding down the space jungle gym.
The highlight of the party was a giant box of foam swimming noodles, each lovingly decorated with duct tape to resemble light sabers. The kids were then instructed to beat on The Dad, dressed as Darth Vader, until pizza arrived. Occasionally, The Dad would cry out, “When is that blasted pizza coming?” before succumbing to another foam barrage.
Occasionally a child would get bored beating on The Dad and venture off to beat on another parent. One such child repeatedly jammed his foam light saber into my face in an attempt to knock off my Bears hat.
I playfully said, “Okay buddy. That’s super funny. But maybe we should stop poking me in the face. Okay buddy? Not the face. Not the face. Okay buddy. Not. The. Face.”
After the tenth poke in the face, I yanked the light saber out of his hand and threw it across the yard. Playfully.
Later, I was attempting to engage another dad in small talk, which was so painfully awkward that the dad simply backed away without saying a word. I was then attacked by Luca, who buried his face into my crotch, sobbing.
I asked him what was wrong and he gulped, “I HATE him.”
“Did someone get too rough with you?”
“I HATE him.”
I knelt down and said, “Hate is a little strong, Luca. You may not like how someone is playing. But we Hamanns don’t hate.”
“I HATE him.”
I asked Luca to point out the object of his loathing, and sure enough, it was the face poker.
“Oh yeah,” I said. “I hate that kid too.”
Rather than destroy the face poker, we decided to just go watch children whack a Star Wars piñata with a broom handle and hope the kid got hit with a backswing.