This is the first in a series of humorous posts by Tejal Toprani Misra who is a psychotherapist in part-time private practice and a most-time stay at home mom. She lives in Philadelphia with her spouse and two young sons.
I recently made the grave error of taking a loud toddler and a 10-month-old crawler to a birthday party solo (my husband works a lot so this is a general theme in my life). Anyways, somehow, I convinced myself that going to this party was a good morning activity. Well it wasn’t. It was raining so that’s always a blast with my naturally curly hair – which I’ve been fighting to keep straight since I was 14 – so I decided to drive to “avoid the rain” in a neighborhood that hasn’t heard of parking spots.
And then – the party itself: A common theme I’ve been noticing lately is a lack of food at children’s parties. Either the idea is that people above 48 inches do not need to eat or it’s poor planning. I’m not sure which. I was starving when I got there and when I finally found 60 seconds to eat, the food was gone. I was recently at another party where the birthday girl’s grandfather went for seconds and the box of pizza was empty. At this party the birthday girl’s mother had the audacity to brag that the party was so economical! Well of course it was when there were literally ravenous children there and no food for them OR the adults! In five more minutes that fourth birthday was going to turn into a riot.
And what’s more, I never understand why parents (me included) take the blood, sweat and tears to plan a kid’s birthday party. No judgment. I’m part of this racket. But this is the thing: The parents always seem stressed and the kid is either too young to remember or just as happy doing anything, not really needing at party at all. My cousin’s oldest just turned five. They were dreading the idea of planning another birthday party so my cousin leveled with the kid. It went something like this:
Mom: Lex, your birthday is in the summer and most of your cousins and friends are not around in the summer.
Lex: (taking in this statement the way a five year old would – silently)
Mom: (in a sad voice) If we have a party not a lot of people will be able to come.
Lex: Okay (clearly this kid didn’t need convincing)
Mom: Would you like to go to a water park for the weekend with your sister, daddy and me instead of a party?
Cut to her showing him pictures of the water park.
Lex: I want to go there!!
So there you have it. An alternative to a big hullabaloo.
Lets’ face it – even the smallest parties are work. You always have to consider food, entertainment (which sometimes means destroying your house, because hey, that’s entertaining), rsvps (and by the way, people who don’t rsvp shouldn’t be invited to anything ever again), invites, drinks, gifts, etc., etc. !!!
And speaking of which, gifts are another added stressor to both those attending and those having these parties. A recent trend is for the invite to say “No presents just your presence.” That sounds poetic and all and being the rule follower that I am I tend to obey this request. Cut to being at the party and seeing people bring in troves of gifts. Even though I know that these people are simply Marie Kondo-ing unopened gifts from their own homes, you can’t help but feel like an idiot while you sit there and eat the birthday cake, watching the birthday child open OTHER people’s gifts.
For the next birthday we’re having I’ve posted a link to donate money to our son’s 529 (college is expensive). If anyone is interested I can keep you posted on how my request goes or whether my husband will be carrying a six foot plush teddy bear home from the party. And if I do end up with a six foot teddy bear, would anyone like to invite us to their child’s birthday party? I think I’ll have a great gift to bring….
Water park anyone? Sounds good to me!