I was invited to a five-year-old’s birthday party Saturday, and ended up spending about two hours watching tiny children bowl.
It was a little like watching an episode of the Three Stooges, but without all the violence, because the siblings were shockingly nice to each other and even the owliest child there didn’t poke anybody’s eyes. She cried a lot, but then somebody gave her some green grapes and suddenly all was right with the world.
Her grandfather ended up with a handful of green grape skins and toddler spit, but he seemed all right with it.
I miss the days when green grapes were a sure-fire cure for crankiness.
The fun started with the other, less cranky 2-year-old, who did manage to get her bowling shoes to stay on, despite the fact that they were probably twice the size of her tiny feet. They reminded her of her tap shoes, so she kept dancing in them, or at least, jumping up and down, and she kept trying to walk out into the ultra-slippery bowling lanes, which in all fairness were extremely shiny. Her mother and other random adults at the party had to work hard to keep her corralled.
Neither of the littlest two cared much for the actual bowling process, though their mothers helped them push bowling balls out into the lane a few times. These rolled at approximately .002 miles per hour and occasionally stopped or started rolling backwards, so that somebody had to edge carefully along the lane and help the bowling balls reach the pins with a firm push.
The older boys, including the 5-year-old birthday boy, both adored the bowling process almost as much as they liked the machine that spat the bowling balls back up. I’m still surprised nobody ended up getting a hand pinched between the heavy objects, but there were three or four adults for every small child.
To me, that seems like about the right ratio.
The boys loved flinging the bowling ball down the lane (usually with a shockingly loud WHOMP as it hit the floor), where it ricocheted off the bumpers at least three or four times before it made it to the pins, by which point the bowler was usually not even watching anymore. They weren’t keeping score. I’m not sure they knew that bowling has scores, actually.
And when the bowling ball finally made its way to the end of the lane, they were happy when it hit a pin at all. Every pin was a victory, and every bowler got cheers and clapping from the little ones any time they hit anything and sometimes even when they didn’t.
Which is good, because I was the semi-official Queen of Gutterballs Saturday, and there’s nothing that makes you feel good about your horrible bowling like the adulation of cute, happy, and fortunately, inattentive 5-year-olds.