Let’s get this out of the way. I love birthdays. I love the overpriced greeting cards, the streamers and balloons, the sugary cake, and the piles of gifts. Birthdays in our home mean the special cupcake table runner and handmade, custom birthday banner come out, dinner is eaten at the birthday person’s restaurant of choice, and there are always many gifts and cards.
But birthday parties? The idea of throwing another party for my kids is about as exciting as dealing with teething triplets in the middle of the night. I just cannot bring myself to plan and execute another party for my children, and here’s why:
1. It’s Expensive
At minimum, you’ll be renting a venue; buying cake, drinks and snacks; putting together party favor bags; decorating the venue; and making sure the theme your child has chosen is prominently displayed through centerpieces, plates, napkins, silly straws, cups, a photo booth, and game pieces. Your child will no doubt choose a theme that cannot be carried out by purchasing items at your local discount store. You will spend no fewer than 26 hours online searching for themed items, none of which qualify for free shipping, so your little angel can enjoy his skateboard-red-zombie-magic-themed party.
2. It’s Awkward
Your kid invites friends from school and friends from the neighborhood, and you invite the offspring of your friends so you have someone to talk to at the party. This melting pot of kids and parents means there’s a lot of awkward silence, clashes in personality, and parents zoning out on their phones while their kids ensure you will lose your security deposit. You are left to play hostess, unsuccessfully introducing parents to one another while their kids fight over the prime space in the bouncy princess castle.
3. It’s Time-Consuming
Planning a party for kids takes months. You have to reserve a venue many weeks in advance, at minimum. Then you have to invite your kid’s nearest-and-dearest whose parents obviously do not know what RSVP means. Then you have to badger said parents to please RSVP so you can order your kid’s favorite birthday snacks and cake. You have to select a party theme, which no doubt, much like your child’s Halloween costume preference, will change no fewer than five times prior to the actual party date. You then have to send out a third round of text messages or bump your Facebook event invite to hopefully get most people to RSVP, to which you will certainly be met with a whole lot of “maybes.” Seriously, waiting on the responses was no different than waiting for the royal babies to be born. It’s excruciating. Anticipation gives way to sheer annoyance (see next point).
4. It’s Annoying
Get a bunch of children together and prepare to invite sensory overload. There’s screaming, bickering, shrieking and tattling. There are spills and stains (again with the security deposit). There’s the parental paranoia that some kid is going to attempt to lick the icing before we can sing Happy Birthday. And the gifts. The gifts. There are always kids who think they should stand directly in front of the birthday child while he or she opens gifts, blocking the view of everyone else and eliciting cries of jealousy and frustration from the other kids. Some parents refuse to actually parent their children, leaving you the honor of saying in a sing-song voice 15 times, “Let’s all take one bottom scoot back” when all you really want to do is scream, “Move your ass, kid!”
5. It’s Underappreciated
Your child decides that perhaps a princess-skiing-ninja theme would have been better the day of the party. The bakery has misspelled your child’s name, and it’s too late to fix it. You might even have birthday party crashers, like your mother-in-law or your least favorite neighbor. You spend weeks, up until the party, anxious and exhausted, and when the party is over, you are still left with exhaustion. And there’s no one there to pat you on the back for a job well done while handing you a venti latte.
Despite my disdain for children’s birthday parties, my kids have had plenty of happy birthdays. The “happy” comes from being surrounded by their siblings and parents, stuffing themselves with French fries and extra ice cream instead of the usual broccoli, and being the center of attention for an entire day. So here’s to many more glorious celebrations, without the zombie plates, the awkward silences, and the free babysitting.