Why should you take your 2-year-old toddler to attend other toddlers’ birthday parties? Do you need to go through that torture and unnecessary expense? Torture, as in – I don’t know any of these people (moms and dads), I have to stay watching my kid behaving, scraping words off my throat to keep a conversation with total strangers, eat and let my kid eat party food – i.e. junk, for which – at least I – will have to work out twice at the gym? And an “unnecessary expense” – does this need clarification? The birthday cards (signing them, that’s actually part of the “torture”), buying toys for someone you don’t know from Adam, wrapping, dressing up your kid (usually in a theme costume, which adds to the expenses). Arh!

And, again, why go through all that? So that the same unknown bunch of kids, perfect moms, and occasional punished dads come to your kid’s birthday party?

Since when kids partied?

We are so wound up about youngsters when they party (yes, I get it – the older ones drink and do all those things ..that’s different bla, bla), but it’s us who pushes them to start “partying” at such an early age.

The midwives and your obstetrician never tell you – one kid = at least 30 birthday party invites a year (from nursery, kinder, school), the number of birthday parties multiply with every school level your kid completes. That multiplies like bunny rabbits if you have two kids, or more. Your life probably defines itself by work, your kids’ birthday parties, work, your kids’  friends’ and friends of friends’  birthday parties until you drop.

I never know that all these other kids exist until I get birthday invites from them in my son’s school bag. About one a week on average. Shloop, someone just drops it in like a bird’s poo. You can’t avoid it. It just strikes you suddenly, unprepared. You open the bag and there it is, the little pink or blue thing staring at you, calling you out “pick me, pick me”.

What were those moms thinking? Let me guess: “my daughter, has to have a smashing birthday party. She has to have all her “friends” over so she can be in the centre of attention and be absolutely happy. So, your son better come over or, we aren’t coming to his birthday party!” There are just too many wrong things in that paragraph:

1. First off, people’s birth dates mean the starting point of counting their limited time (here on Earth, at least). It is not a means to entitle yourself above other mortals every time your “special” date occurs. Anyway by the time a girl hits her 30s, the birth date (the year mainly) quickly loses its gravity and starts fluttering over other numbers. For that matter my mom has been 54 for the past few years!

2. So, what’s the big deal that a 3-year-old has a birthday? She’ll hardly remember anything. Save the money on a college fund instead of bashing it on a silly Mickey Mouse-themed party. If you insist on presents so much, give your relatives your daughter’s college fund account. Otherwise, she’ll get all those fluffy “special” presents of which she’ll be tired by dinner time.

3. And a birthday party? What’s that, college already? Children party all the time – mine twice a day! There’s playing in the park in the morning, playing in the park in the afternoon; swimming on the weekends; horse riding and “choo-choo” train riding, and going abroad, and water park fun time in the summer, and grandparents every other day, and cousins on the holidays, ice-cream, toys, cartoons, jelly babies, fairytale reading before nap, after nap, during milk time, all the time. The kids are on a constant blast. Aren’t we spoiling them with yet another party that’s ABOUT THEM? Everyday is ABOUT THEM. The only person that should have a party on the kids’ birthdays is the mom, where no kids are allowed.

But there is a trick to it. You find the little nasty thing (in a pink or a blue envelope) in your son’s bag, just like I did twice last week.
The invite says (and my interpretation of it):

party theme: Pirates of the Caribbean (anything more original?)
dress code: pirate (meaning: spend money!)
Come and celebrate little Ella’s 3rd birthdaymeaning: bring a nice present, meaning spend money;
bring your kid to have great funmeaning: if you want little Ella to come to your son’s birthday and not have him blow his three candles miserably alone!

So, what do I do and how will my kid interpret my decisions? Moreover, how will my decisions affect him?
– Do I take him to those birthday parties and have all those kids come over to his 3rd birthday party in a couple of months? Or,
– Do I let him grow up to understand what this is about, make friends, and then decide for himself what he wants to do on his birthday?

I think I’ll stick to the second option. I’ll just jot down in my diary for April 8th: make simple cake, invite family, buy one present, put some money into my son’s college fund. Period.

What would you do?

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