I’ve had just about enough of these ridiculous birthday parties. Enough.
I love my kids and I want them to have the most incredible birthdays that they could possibly ask for. I want them to talk about their birthday parties for years to come. I want them to recall with great fondness the times they shared with their friends that day. But this isn’t summer vacation before their senior year of high school. This is one day filled with screaming toddlers and primary kids.
The last party my son was invited to was a class birthday party at a local athletic center where they have a VERY small children’s play area. It wasn’t THAT small, but once you filled it with 20 kids that didn’t care about personal space and had the attention spans of spider monkeys, it seemed a little small.
Anyway, my son was relatively well behaved (which means that I only had to threaten to leave every 10-15 minutes), and eventually we all piled into the room with the snacks. My son has several food intolerances, but this particular party was great in terms of the food that was available, including 100% real fruit juice boxes.
So, I told my son that he could have a juice box. And he did.
We played a little more and went back and forth between the food room and the fun room until we were working on cutting the cake. It was at that point that my son came up to me and told me that he wasn’t feeling very well. I was in the midst of explaining to him that he probably shouldn’t have any cake if he didn’t feel well when he began to throw up on me.
I say “began to throw up on me” rather than “threw up on me” because it was not a short process. I held my son as he threw up more liquid than I thought a small human could have inside their body. I looked ahead and saw another dad smiling and nodding his head as if to say, “yup… that’ll happen.”
So, we get cleaned up, and on the way home, my son informed me that basically every time that I turned around, he would drink ANOTHER juice box. In a span of 10-12 minutes, he drank somewhere between six and nine juice boxes.
Birthday parties are the worst.
I write this exactly one month before my daughter’s third birthday party, and this time around, instead of renting a pony, or taking them rock climbing, or renting a farm (I’ve been to parties where all these things have happened), we’re going to keep it very low-key.
While you might want your son or daughter to have a memorable day, there’s a very good chance that what you think is memorable and what your son or daughter think is memorable are two very different things.
One time, my son got to see a kangaroo. A real, honest to goodness kangaroo. I could not have been more excited. I had my son up on my shoulders and at one point I took a video where I alternated between shots of my son and shots of the kangaroo. When I watched the video, I noticed that at no point had my son been looking AT the actual kangaroo. Instead, my son was looking to our left where one of the museum staff had painted a cardboard kangaroo with a cutout for your face. That’s what my son was interested in. A cardboard kangaroo. Not a real kangaroo that was right in front of him. A. Cardboard. Kangaroo.
Obviously, you want to give your child the best you can. I believe that each generation is intensely interested in giving better to their kids than they ever had. But that doesn’t mean you have to go nuts for a birthday party that they’re BARELY going to remember in just a couple of days. It doesn’t mean they need a Barbie Dream House when there is just as good of a chance that they spend all their time playing with the box it came in.
Can we all just calm down on birthdays for a while?