Dear parents,

I want to apologize for some of the events that occurred during my son Chad’s Stanford Prison Experiment-themed birthday party last weekend. I realize none of you had planned to be locked in a cell for 36 hours, but still, that was only 45 minutes longer than Maria’s Disney Princess Ariel Infinity Pool and Live Sea Creatures Party in February. Yes, a few of you passed out from exhaustion and/or dehydration, but there were no deaths at Chad’s party. Can’t say the same for Maria’s fiasco. (RIP, Sebastian the crab.)

If we’re being totally honest, this is all Rose’s dad Jerry’s fault. He started the birthday party arms race by recreating a disastrous Mt. Everest expedition for his daughter’s celebration, complete with a hauntingly authentic abandoned base camp and the lifelike husks of fallen hikers strewn all about his backyard under four feet of artificial snow. Sure, I’ll apologize for my role in organizing Chad’s party, but once he’s medically cleared and released from the hospital, Jerry needs to step up and accept blame for some of the horrible things the toddlers did to us during those 36 hours of hell.

It seems obvious now that I shouldn’t have assigned the kids in the role of guards. Nor should I have supplied real handcuffs, let alone police-grade VIPERTEK Double-Lock Steel handcuffs, which were, by the way, significantly more expensive than the live king crab Maria’s golden retriever devoured in front of all of us. Next time around, I will have a firm “no real handcuffs at children’s parties — especially not police-grade” policy. But this was my first time hosting a party like this, so there was no way of knowing that the children would handcuff all the parents and lock us in the cell with only one Elmo training potty to share for 36 hours.

Let’s just chalk this up as one of those things you had to learn by doing.

You see, I wanted to give my sweet four-year-old the best party of his life, and I spared no expense. I also wanted the event to be a teaching moment, so one day he would look back on it and realize the lengths I went through to help him learn about the psychological effects of perceived power. Trust me, I didn’t think the toddlers would take their tasers out of their goodie bags before the party ended. And I didn’t think they would learn to use them so quickly — but you’ve seen how fast they mastered iPads. All I handed the toddlers were the police batons (the ones they used to break Rose’s dad’s wrist in three places). I would never have given them tasers without telling you first! Especially if I knew little Morgan and Tasha would use them to scare us into making toilet hooch in the Elmo training potty.

It’s easy to point fingers at me, but I would like to remind you again that kids’ birthdays are out of control and that all your children’s parties had big problems, too. Like when you ran out of tote bags, Gary, at Michelle’s All Things Considered-themed party, or when three-year-old Billy’s talk and slides were clearly plagiarized at Marky’s Ted Talks-themed party. Or how about when little Mykela literally burned her finger on a birthday candle at the Feel The Bern 2016-themed birthday party? And, of course, that poor crab whose legs were ripped off before being crushed by the jaws of Maria’s vicious dog.

Final note: Everyone left their goodie bags. I’ve left them on the porch if you want to swing by and pick them up. They’re labeled with your child’s name and correctional officer badge number. I removed the rest of the tasers and the store-bought shivs, but the gluten-free cookies are still in there.

See you all next week at Atticus’s Donner Party Birthday Party.

(Chad’s dad)