Birthday Parties

It’s that time of year again and your child’s birthday is coming up. If your kids are anything like mine, they will start reminding you two months in advance. “Hey mom, my birthday is in 55 days! Did you know that? I made my birthday list! Want to see? I know where I want to have my party!” This is usually a monologue just for themselves, but you’d better be listening and have your pencil ready. If you think you’re going to get away with a family party, regular balloons, and a Fudgie the Whale cake (or maybe you were more of a Cookie Puss fan), you’re sadly mistaken. Seriously though, when did birthday parties become so intense?!

Children are so accustomed to seeing huge birthday parties and thinking it’s typical for everyone. I mean where would they get this idea? Could it be that people are having over the top gender reveals where they send a rocket into the sky to shoot out pink or blue confetti? Or maybe because we as parents so desperately want our kids to have the best, so we start looking on Pinterest for themed parties and frantically seek out ideas for the best candy tables and the yummiest goody bags. Our intentions are good, they always are. We love our kids, we want them to be happy and we want them to have fun! It’s okay to want to celebrate in a big way and throw a great party! I do it, too! I spend months preparing. I stress myself out making sure everything is perfect, that the Star Wars themed party has inflatable light sabers, Yoda masks, Vader cupcakes, and matching plates and cups. But the question is, when does it become too much? Is it dangerous territory when your child starts expecting a party that has puppies running around for their cuddling enjoyment, a bouncy house, a huge inflatable slide, a popcorn machine, cotton candy and a balloon arch? This might be a problem.

When I look back on photos of my birthday parties as a little kid, I often see myself blowing out candles on my Carvel cake. I see a few balloons around me and I see family standing behind me smiling. I mean there were usually a few relatives in the background with teased hair and cigarettes, too. I miss the days when the kids played pin the tail on the donkey, got candy necklaces, ran around from their sugar highs and made their own fun. Sometimes I feel that kids aren’t using their imagination and not tapping into their own creative minds because they are so used to being served entertainment. I remember planning out every minute of a birthday party because God forbid a child was bored for a moment. I understand now why parents rent out places for two hours complete with two party helpers and everything is done for you. Entertainment is served along with a slice of pizza and a Capri Sun. No bored kids here!

It all makes sense though. There was no social media when we were little. There was no way to compare what we were doing versus what our friends were doing. It was only word of mouth. “Did you hear that Jennifer had a magician at her party last weekend? It was a great party! She even had snow cones!” Nowadays, it’s all thrown right into our face. You log into Facebook and Instagram and there it is! Brinley’s Magical Fifth Birthday Bash complete with unicorn face paint, purple hair chalk, sparkly manicures, and pink lemonade. All for your viewing pleasure! I am not bashing at all, I legitimately do the same thing! I like to share because when my kids are happy, I’m happy and in turn I share. But what if you’re seeing this and sabotaging your own happiness? What if you’re needlessly comparing? We need to stop. Our kids don’t care and neither should we. And if they are comparing and demanding a pony at their third birthday, well then it’s time for a reset for both the parents and the kids. It might be worth going back to Carvel for a cake and some old-fashioned streamers. It could be one of the best birthdays little Jimmy will ever have!

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