Boy #2’s birthday was January 26, but true to my nature, I failed to schedule his party within the same week — or even month — of his birthday. Fortunately, however, it seemed to be worth the wait.
His party was Sunday at the Iowa Reptile Rescue, and it was a HIT. I don’t think there could be any more perfect venue for 9-year-old boys. If you’re in the area, I highly recommend the IRR for birthday parties. The staff there made a BIG impact on my boys.
For the first 45 minutes or so, the IRR closed the rescue to the public, so we had the whole place to ourselves. One by one they brought out snakes, iguanas, a bearded dragon, turtles, a baby giant tortoise and even an alligator. They told all about these animals, where they came from, and what they’re like. Then we all got to pet each one. (Yes, I think I touched every one. I was very proud of myself.)
The boys were so good — they were great listeners, asked fabulous questions and were careful with the animals. They were so good, in fact, that Robin, the owner, brought out a very special iguana. Rocky was paralyzed on his back legs and tail, and he wasn’t used to being around people yet. But since the boys were so good, Robin brought out Rocky and the boys carefully petted him. Rocky had just started eating on his own and was making good progress, so Robin wanted to start introducing him to small groups of people. I think the boys felt honored to be the first group that got to meet Rocky up close and personal, and I think Rocky liked it too.
After the reptile show and a tour of the rescue, Robin opened the front of the shelter back up and we still had the back half for cupcakes, ice cream and presents. And YES we sanitized our hands well before eating! I bought cupcakes from Target, took off the Happy Birthday rings that were on them, and substituted them with stretchy lizards that I had found and bought.
We made goody bags for the boys to take home that included a big snake or lizard that I found at Target, gummy worms and alligators, and a blower thingy. The snakes and lizards were a hit; only boys would discover that the mouths were just the right size to fit onto and stick to their chins.
When we got home from the party, Boy #2 told me he was going to treat his rubber iguana like a real pet, and Boy #3 was all over that idea. We had a few extra animals, and soon we had our own reptile rescue of sorts at home. I was pretty impressed with the boys’ commitment to their fake pets! First, they borrowed my computer to do research on each of the types of reptiles. Apparently, the species of each reptile was printed on the bottom of it, so they knew what to search for. The boys then determined what kind of habitat their pets needed, what they ate, how much light they needed and many other facts about each one.
Pretty soon they started asking me for supplies, and I resisted objecting when they grabbed one of my Longaberger mixing bowls as a pool for one of the snakes. They staked claim to part of the family room and set up their center, which they named the RRF, or Reptile Research Facility. They created signs for each of the animals, just like they had at the Iowa Reptile Rescue, and set up a desk where they could perform their research (with my laptop, of course).
This is probably why my house is always a mess. Oh well. Someday I’ll have a clean house, and I’ll probably be really lonely.