My daughter just completed kindergarten or what I like to call, The Year of The Birthday Party. I’m not kidding when I say she was invited to a birthday party a month—some months there were multiple parties.
By the third or fourth party, I had to draw the line and she had to choose. More than once, I’d have to ask her, “Now do you really know Petunia? Do you play with her at recess?” Or “Okay, it’s either Will’s or Ellen’s party, because we can’t do both.” I couldn’t bear four back-to-back hours of birthday party mania, because when the kids are five, the parents (almost always the moms) have to stay for the duration. Only the parents of second (or those with more than two) children had the balls to drop their kids at the bowling alley and saunter back two hours later to claim their child, likely refreshed from a pedicure and without an icing headache.
Sometimes, I wouldn’t even tell daughter about an invitation in hopes nobody at school would mention it.
As far as gift-giving goes, my ever-generous-with-someone-else’s-money child would inevitably choose something I found to be absurdly expensive for a child I didn’t know.
“Really, Mommy, I think Katy would love the Littlest Pet Shop Tail Waggin’ Fitness Club. She looooves Littlest Pet Shop. She really wants this,” said with authority and dire earnestness, oh and to the tune of $44.99.
By Halloween, I set a budget of $10 per party.
Maybe I’m just cheap because daughter’s birthday is in the summer, thereby reducing our obligation to have an “invite the entire classroom party.” Or maybe in these economic times the reality of shelling out the extra dough throughout the school year just isn’t so palatable? Besides, what parent really wants to have another MyMeeba or Matchbox Car set or Candy Land in the closet? How many Barbies can one kid feasibly play with? It’s just more stuff to get rid of. (I know this because I just had a yard sale.)
The parties we attended ranged from the super fancy to the plain-Jane variety. Just a sampling includes a trip to a big indoor forum filled with inflatables (a.k.a. bouncy houses), two swimming parties (one in the dead of winter at an indoor pool), one rock-climbing wall party, three parties at the park, one gymnastics party, one kitty party, and a partridge in a pear tree. I’ve heard of children’s party planners in my area who work with $25,000 budgets to fete the junior prince and princess. I can’t speak to that.
Seriously, do you remember going to a zillion birthday parties when you were a kid? I remember bringing a handful of bubble gum wrapped in tissue paper to the one party to which I was invited 1976. Gum. Now that’s a good gift.
Last week was daughter’s sixth birthday and he had the most exotic party of the year. Our family was on vacation in Mexico and daughter had previously extended verbal invitations to attend her party in Mexico to all her friends during the school year. A couple of their moms even mentioned this to me, and I said, “You bet. Come on down. Everyone is invited!”
Now what’s a little airfare between friends?