Here a Party, There a Party, Everyone has a Party

Birthday parties!  I have a love/hate relationship with these.   I don’t like planning them and for the most part I don’t like going to them either, but I know that they are an important part of my children’s youth.

Before I had Davey, the trend of themed parties was starting to come to light.   For his first birthday, I somewhat jumped on that bandwagon and planned him a nautical themed party.   I didn’t go all out with decorations and I most certainly did NOT have little goody bags for the guests.   Most of the guests were family anyways, while others were people who I had just met since becoming a stay at home mom.  It was a great birthday, but definitely not up to a party planners’ caliber.

The following year, I had a Mickey Mouse clubhouse themed party and while I went a little bit further with it, I still didn’t go to extremes.  I even managed to tone down the guest list.   By the time Davey’s third birthday came around, I had Henry who was 10 months old and I’d learned a few things regarding parties, what I wanted and expected out of them, and what was really and truly worth the effort.

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Davey’s Mickey Mouse clubhouse birthday cake custom made by one of my best friends. She did (and still does) magnificent work!

I decided that I no longer wanted to have the parties at my house.  It’s a bit stressful preparing for a party and keeping a clean house with two boys, one grown man, and a dog.   I also decided that I didn’t HAVE to invite those family members who I only see once every other year.  In most cases, they were invited to save face, but every time they declined to show.   Now I just don’t bother.

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Continuing with the theme for Davey…not doing these anymore.

I also decided that theme parties are ridiculous, at least for me they are, and truthfully my kid isn’t that concerned.   He just wants to have fun at some place he doesn’t go to everyday and with kids he can see outside of school.   For Davey’s third birthday, I had his party off site and we invited a ton of people.   My heart literally shattered when only 4 kids showed up.   Davey didn’t care so much, but I did.   I was pissed (still am to this day) at friends who didn’t show up.   Again, it bothered me more than Davey.   After that 3rd party, when I reserved a spot for 15 kids, with less than a third even RSVPing (come on, people, you’re adults.  A simple yes or no works), I decided to reevaluate what may be keeping parents from bringing their kids, which then had me thinking, “what makes me NOT want to go to a party?”

First thing is gifts.   I have enough stress in my life, enough things to keep on a calendar, that trying to go out and buy a gift for a 3,4,5 year old, whom I don’t know very well, is just a bit daunting.   I spend what feels like a lifetime in the toy section trying to find something not too dinky, but within my budget.  There are a select handful of kids who I will do this for, but really I don’t like doing it.   I have enough toys in my house, so many in fact that I had to shuffle them in and out.  Of course the necessity of buying a gift doesn’t keep me away from going to parties, but it’s still a pain in my ass.

So, what do I do with the gift headache?   Last year, I implemented a new policy where gifts are concerned.   There are people who feel they MUST by a gift.  I had a few people tell me they were disappointed that my child wasn’t getting gifts.   It’s a celebration, a party, a chance to have something that lasts longer than toys…memories and friends.   Since I knew people would want to buy a gift, I encouraged them to go to one of my favorite charities, the GHS Children’s Hospital, and a buy a gift for a child who is in the hospital, a child who doesn’t get the luxury of going out for parties.   I had thought it would be a hit, but alas only one set of parents bought a gift for a child in need.   That genuinely broke my heart.

Second thing is food.   I try to schedule my parties around a meal time so that encourages parents to want to bring their kids, because at least they don’t have to worry about dinner.   I make sure to have enough food for the parents as well.  If it means you will bring your child to my child’s party, then I will supply you with a meal.   All my kid wants is to hang out and have fun.

Third, has to do with activities.  When I was a kid, we had birthday parties at our house and my friends and I played out in the backyard barefoot with whatever toy was there.   We created our games, played sports, and ate cake and ice cream.   The parents were always on the porch or patio, not hovering over the kids trying to dictate what the kids should be playing.   For some strange reason, it seems that this day that just a big fat no no with parents, so I just have the parties off site at some sort of activity center where I don’t have to beat myself senseless trying to come up with activities.   Yet another thing that’s a pain in my ass.

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Henry’s first birthday…no theme and he was happy.

I know, a lot of you are asking me about the gift situation right now.  I can see you telling me it’s not fair to deprive my child of an essential part of his childhood by not giving him gifts on his birthday.   To that I say, “back up and hold the phone.”   My children do receive gifts.   We have a small little birthday dinner, with my parents, aunt, and cousin, along with my mother-in-law every year where my children receive toys.   They have gifts to open, so I’m not taking away their chance to open gifts.   I know this is something that will keep me from attending a child’s party (not every child’s) and if I feel this way, I know other parents do as well.   If I can alleviate that stress (usually the biggest headache for a parent taking their child to a birthday party), thereby encouraging more of my children’s friends to show, then I am a happy mom.

Birthday parties are a dime a dozen.   When you become a parent, there are so many of them to attend, more than I ever recall attending when I was a child.   It seems as if we’re receiving invites to a new party at least once a week and I know that’s only going to get worse as Henry is officially old enough to be in school and have friends of his own.   Yet another party to plan and another whole set of parties to attend.  It comes with the territory of being a parent, but why not find ways to be considerate of the other parents when planning the party.   I know it’s the child’s special day, but even on his special day, consideration for others is always a must, at least in this household.

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Henry’s first birthday….look at that smiling face.
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You Will Survive, Henry

We are ending our 2nd week of school for Henry.  2 weeks, or more specifically 4 days.   He’s in K2 and being his first time in school we have enrolled him as a T/Th student.   Again, let me repeat, we have finished 4 days and I can’t help but wonder if it will get any better.

For 4 days, I’ve dealt with a child who clawed his car window screaming for his Mimi.  For 4 days, I’ve dealt with a child who has attempted to lock me out of the car when I’ve tried to drop him off at school.   For 4 days, I’ve dealt with a child whom I’ve had to drag out of the car kicking and screaming and hand him off to his teacher all the while he’s reaching for me and screaming “no”.

I had hoped that we just needed to get into our routine, but it appears that drama at the car line drop off will be our routine for this school year.

This morning, Davey and I talked up school to Henry, as he fought me while I was loading him into his car seat.   Davey, my mini-me dork, LOVES school.  He reminds me of myself and how much I looked forward to school everyday, how I wanted to see my friends and my teachers, how I wanted to learn and become smarter, and experience new things.   Henry?  Yeah, to quote his words, “I not care about dis (his speech) stuff.”

So, after all of our playing up school and it’s many, many benefits to Henry, I thought for sure Davey and I had crossed the bridge and that Henry would be excited, or at least more willing.  Obviously, I thought wrong, as once again I’m holding up the carline to the empathetic faces of all the other moms, while getting Henry out, his arms gripped tightly onto his seatbelt while I’m pulling him by his legs.

I try encouraging words, tell him his teachers are going to be so happy to see him, or that they’ll be sad if he’s not there.   I talk about his friends and all of the fun he’ll have with them.   I talk about all of the cool toys they’ll play with and crafts they’ll make.  Finally, I’ve ended up with, “You will survive, Henry.”   Obviously, he doesn’t understand what I mean.

I don’t get it.  I don’t understand why going to school is so torturous, especially when I pick him up, he’s so eager to tell me about his day.   He has a smile on his face, tells his teachers “bye”, and climbs into the car already talking about the day’s adventures.   I want to tell him, “i told you so,” but I’m told that’s not appropriate.

My mother has her own theory as to why my youngest acts as if he’s going to the slaughterhouse when I drop him off at school.   He knows Davey is with me and he feels left out, anxious about what he’s going to miss, and not exactly eager to know that Davey is getting one on one time with me.   I want to tell him, that he gets three days of one on one versus Davey’s two, but once again  I don’t think he’ll understand.

I suppose I will continue to fight this battle and be thankful that my youngest isn’t my brother incarnate.   My brother once locked my mother out of the car when she got out to get him out for school.    I can see this same scenario playing out for me one day.