Sunday, March 16, 2008


Colm's best friend, Edan, first coined the term "flashcat" a few months ago. From the beginning it has denoted something fast, feline, and fierce and as such become the perfect name for what the two boys most wanted to be. Since that time, flashcats have evolved into a kind of superhero. Tess and Colm regularly go off on imaginary flashcat adventures most recently involving their rocket ship which appears to the uninitiated observer to be a simple tree house in our back yard. They have begun taking on the mantle of rescuers and since Tess has been studying penguins in her first grade class, penguins have become the favorite creature in distress for the flashcats to save.
Last year Colm chose pirates as his birthday party theme. It was no surprise when Colm asked that this party be a flashcat party.
Beth set to work envisioning a flashcat look which involved a mask, a tail, ears, and a cape. She made a costume for each kid coming to the party. She found in Portland some tiny cat figures for which she made miniature red capes.

She put them on individual cupcakes for the invitees.
We brainstormed some physical tests that the kids could perform to earn their costume pieces. Boxing the punching bag to earn a tail, jumping Chinese jump rope to get a set of ears, and hitting a target with a ball to get a mask. But to earn their capes they had to work together and complete the most important task of all - rescue the little, lost penguin.

We sent Colm out to the mailbox to retrieve a message. He came back with an envelope addressed to the flashcats. In it was an urgent message from a penguin who had been chased from his home by evil rats. The flashcats were told to meet the penguin by their rocket ship.
So began the flashcat treasure hunt. There were six clues in all, each one written on a small piece of paper, rolled up and taped in some inconspicuous place. Tess and Emily were the only kids in the group who could read so it fell to them to read the clued aloud.

The clues were:
  1. a door too small to pass through
  2. a place not even a mosquito can enter though you can just by using your hands
  3. keys that cannot open doors or locks but which make music if you hit them
  4. a black hole covered by six steel strings that hum when you touch them.
  5. look in the long mirror and see it.
  6. trapped inside a floating skin about size of your head. When you find me, you'll hear a loud pop!
In truth, the clues were a bit much for the youngest ones there, who sometimes drifted while the older girls worked on decoding the words. But when we got to the final stage of popping balloons to find the lost penguin, the game was really on. In the end, the penguin was rescued from the rats, everyone earned his cape, and to celebrate we played musical hula hoops and then sat down for flashcat cupcakes and juice. Later we went outside and smacked a flashcat pinata with a bat.

Colm could not have been happier. Beth had pulled off another inventive birthday extravaganza and managed to put her own signature stamp on it... flashcats!

As one who has done a fair amount of theater in my life, I can tell you that there is no difference between the exhausitve preparations, the creative process, the investment of time and energy, the worry and fretting, and the post production swoon that accompany theater productions and what Beth goes through when she creates for the kids here in our house.
There are presents and there are gifts. Presents come in nice packages; they are fun, and they lie strewn about on the floor after being opened. Gifts pass directly from one heart to another. Beth understands giving; you could say that it's one of her best gifts; our kids (and me) are fortunate to be so gifted.
p.s. None of the above is meant to disparage presents in any way...if you were to ask Colm what his favorite present was this year, I don't think there'd be any hesitation on his part - he loves his guitar. Thanks Charlotte and Warner! He'll be working on a song for you one day, I'm sure.


Blogger adam jk gallardo said...

Oh, my God! I want Beth to one day throw me a birthday party. Or, better yet, send Beth back in time to throw a party for the six-year-old me.

This looks like so much fun. Happy belated birthday to Colm.

11:57 AM  
Anonymous erin said...

I'm with Adam- I want a Beth Signature Birthday Party! Beth, YOU RULE!!! Much Love, Erin

10:01 AM  

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