15 May 2011


In our family, April-July is birthday extravaganza. It is kicked off on 25th April with my sister, then May is the highlight...09th if my mom, 10th is Brayden, 14th is Tim's dad and the 26th is Tim. June will soon be baby #3 and then July is met with 03rd for Tim's mom, 26th for my dad and the 27th for Ryan. It's wild and crazy...especially when you throw in mother's day and father's day. I can't keep up with it all.

Growing up, birthdays were a family thing. Not that I didn't have birthday parties that involved friends, because I did have plenty that way. But the focus was family time. Perhaps it's because we didn't live near any family but whatever the reason that's the way it was. Low key and nice. We were never really a family of over exaggerating things or bringing attention to ourselves; I guess my lesson in humility was learned at an early age.

So for the first few years for both Ryan and Brayden, their birthday parties were simply a gathering of the grandparents and a few other family members. Nothing elaborate, just a homemade cake and ice cream and presents at the house. When Tim and I moved into the house where we are now, 2 years ago, that changed. I don't know if it was the "peer pressure" of our neighborhood or what.

Last year, for Ryan's 4th birthday, we went a little crazy. All he wanted was Muddy the Mudcat (local AAA baseball mascot) and the "Dancing Man" from our races. We produced both, had every kid from the neighborhood (about 15) plus a few school friends and some work friends. We ordered pizza, sprinklers and mad craziness outside. Of course we did this at the house and I was high strung and crazy about the mess and people in the house. Ridiculous.

For Brayden this year, his 3rd birthday; we rented a little indoor play place and did pizza and cupcakes but only invited kids from school. Fewer people and not at my house so less stress but higher cost. Again, just ridiculous.

When you take into account their age, let's think about how truly insane this is. They will never remember these birthdays in the long run and would probably be just as happy at a playground or at home with a few friends. Why don't we save the big bashes for the older years when they have something they are really interested in? Because we feel the pressure of giving our children more than we had, the "go big or go home" theory I suppose.

'Keeping up with the Jones'" Well, dang the Jones'. Because not only am I succumbing to the pressure of where we go and what we do for a birthday, as if it somehow validates how good a parent we are, but we are now charged with the policy of supplying other children with presents at these parties so that they don't feel "left out". What is that about? I don't remember people giving me presents when I showed up for their birthday party when I was young. It was "tough crap" it's not your birthday, get over it if your feelings are hurt, it's not about you, it's about them. But again, that's the standard now.

The standard: over spend on some crazy "venue", presents, food, number of people and then buy those ~20 other kids a present. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it's cheaper and more beneficial to go to somebody else's party. You only spend 20 bucks on a present, get free food, a tired child and a present for your kid. Now that's what I'm talking about. Okay, I think we've paid our dues for "dumbness" for trying to be like the people next door, next year, we're back to simple.


N.D. said...

Haha. That sounds like fun. Happy Birthday to everyone! Iv'e done themed parties for Nick so far at our house. First birthday - friends and family. Second one -just friends and immediate family. I was thinking of doing a fire house next year but you're right, will they remember it?

Alicia Parr said...

Oh dear me. I've started to wonder if we should start w/ the birthday party scene at 3. We have yet to do it for Remy and he doesn't know any different. I had NO IDEA the "policy" is to provide the other kids presents. Sigh...