My brother, Rudy, turned six today. Unlike many people, Rudy admired racoons. That’d led him to wanting a racoon birthday party.
I’d assisted my mom in buying supplies, such as those racoon hats. The party stores sold no racoon balloons, plates, or anything related to them. So we had bought black and silver balloons and had placed racoon faces on them—printouts from the internet.
Rudy had also wished for a pin-the-tail-on-the-racoon game. So my mom had made that on her own.
We set up the house. My mom had asked me to assist in the event, even though my friend, Alice, had invited me to her pool party.
At fourteen, that intrigued me more than a small child’s birthday bash with an unusual theme.
The doorbell rang. Rudy’s friends showed up and put on the racoon hats. Then they ran around.
Once all the little kids arrived, my mom said to me, “Esme, you’re in charge of the kids.”
“Why? What are you doing?”
“I’m teaching you responsibility.”
I blushed, recalling the poor grades I’d received in school that’d almost made me fail eighth grade.
As Rudy’s friends played the games, Alice called me.
“I can’t talk right now.”
“I’m going away tomorrow and won’t be back for two weeks.”
“Alice, I already told you that I can’t make it.”
A boy fell and cried.
“I’ve got to go.” I hung up and rushed over to the kid. “What happened?”
“I tripped,” he sobbed.
“Hang on, I’ll get you a Band-Aid.” I hurried to the bathroom, only to run into my mom, who walked out.
“Who’s crying?” my mother asked.
“Dylan,” said Rudy.
“Where was Esme when this happened?” asked my mom.
“Talking on the phone with her friend, Alice,” Rudy answered.
My mom glared at me as I gave Rudy a dirty look.
“Esme, I told you to look after them,” my mother said.
“I’m sorry. But Alice was the one who called me.”
“Give me your phone.” My mom held her hand out.
I gave it to her and dragged my feet into the room.
“You’ll get it back after the party.”
I flushed and gave Dylan the Band-Aid. “All right, who wants to play a game where you don’t run around?”
The children groaned.
“We can come up with something.” I gasped. “How about arts and crafts?”
“Can it be about racoons?” Rudy asked.
“Yes, but let your friends make whatever they want too.”
I gathered some paper, crayons, scissors, glue sticks, and googly eyes. Then I brought it to the playroom.
“What can we make?” asked Dylan.
“Anything you want,” I answered. “Just be careful with the scissors and don’t run with them. No grabbing things from the other children, no coloring on anything other than the paper, and clean up after you’re done.”
The kids engaged in drawing, coloring, cutting, and pasting. They made rainbows, houses, butterflies, and other cute creations.
After they tidied up, they showed my mom their crafts.
“Very nice, everyone,” she said. “Did Esme watch you?”
They all said that she did.
“She helped us,” said Rudy.
“Wow.” My mother turned to me. “Thank you, Esme.”
I assisted in serving pizza, cake, and goodie bags. Then my mom returned the phone to me. Alice had texted me.
My pool had an issue. So we can’t swim today. Do u want to come in 2 weeks?
Yes. TY so much. See u then.
“Thank you for helping out today, Esme,” my mom said.
“Thank you,” Rudy added.
“You’re welcome.” I grinned.