Who says "back to school" time is only for kids? It's a big deal for parents, too. And parents often mark the occasion with something special.
Imagine a birthday party where nearly a dozen rambunctious boys sit around a table and discover amazing facts about bugs.
Well it can - and did - happen when my son, Nick, turned 6.
Nick, who started catching bugs not long after he learned to walk, has always been a nature kid. (I can still picture him toddling after a cockroach at a Downtown business. Ugh!)
He loves attending programs sponsored by the Columbus Metro Parks, memorizing bits of animal trivia and exploring the outdoors.
When Nick said he wanted to have a bug birthday party, I went to work looking for some creepy, crawling entertainment. Around the same time, the Columbus Metropolitan Library was hosting a program featuring Mark Berman and his BUGMAN Educational Entoprises.
The boys and I headed to the library to check him out. We were impressed by the number and size of the bugs he brought to the library. There was even an exciting moment when a praying mantis leaped across the room and got comfortable on the library drapes.
Berman's program was entertaining and educational. He dispelled myths about bugs and reminded kids that they have a responsibility to take care of other living creatures.
He made funny jokes and kept the kids' attention during his talk.
Nick agreed that Berman would be perfect for his birthday party. (We both liked that we had the chance to preview his presentation and had a good idea of what to expect at the party.)
With the entertainment out of the way, it was time to secure a venue. We had talked about having the party at a local ice cream or pizza shop but decided the other customers might not appreciate Berman and his bugs.
Lucky for us, the shelter house at Jeffery Mansion Park in Bexley was available (for $20 an hour for a minimum of two hours and available only to Bexley residents). We have found that parks make a great setting for kids' parties because there's plenty of space to run around. Most parks have playground equipment, which is a fun way to amuse guests at the beginning and the end of the party when parents are dropping off and picking up kids.
Choosing party treats and favors was easy too. The boys helped me use candy and licorice to make spider cupcakes. We gave each guest a bug kit that included a magnifying glass and butterfly net.
For decorations, we picked up a couple of balloon bouquets and bought some inexpensive, checked vinyl tablecloths. Nick and I hot-glued plastic bugs to the tablecloths so it looked like the party was overrun by insects.
Nick loved the tablecloths, the cupcakes and, of course, the bugs.
"The kids learned about bugs and had fun," he said.