Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Birthdays and their parties

I'm wondering if I'm in a minority in this subject.  I've mentioned it to other moms with children of different ages and it appears as though I am, indeed, a minority.  I also think I'm right.  I don't think I've written that before on here, but on this, I think I will.

Sunshine has friends and is asked to birthday parties.  Woohoo!  Who doesn't like going to a birthday party?!  Right now (and I know I am in the minority on this where I live) most parties are held at other places.  Be it Chuck E Cheese, a bounce town, the gymnastics club, or something through the local park district, it has been a couple of years (yes years) since Sunshine has been to a birthday party held at a friend's house.

That's fine, I can certainly see the draw in it.  No cleaning, minimal pick-up, not having to be solely responsible for entertaining, no children bouncing around your house/furniture/antique, breakable collections - the reasons are endless.  If you want to have it someplace else, go for it.

My problem isn't location (I'm not trying to be a reverse snob), my problem is that the kids never open the presents.  The first time it happened I was in absolute shock.  What?!  Why wouldn't they open presents?  Isn't that part of what going to the party is all about?  Cake.  Ice cream.  Presents.  Leave with a goodie bag of stuff.  Pretty basic.  I've heard multiple reasons too:  we rented the space and want to get their money's use, the place they rented has it timed down to the minute, the other children don't want to watch them open the presents, it isn't about the presents, children don't want to wait, kids don't know how to be gracious.  The number one reason, by far, is the price of the venue, with a tie of the venue time frame and not being about presents.

Really?  If it's not about presents, then you need to state this because I ask every birthday what the birthday boy/girl is interested in and what they would like.  A quick, "Johnny has many toys, thank you for the thoughtfulness, instead of..." or just "Please no gifts" on the card.

Sunshine was so disappointed the first time she didn't get to watch the birthday kid open the present she brought.  I was too, but I was more frustrated and surprised when I was told that it was normal.  Then a birthday party happened where I went to 3 stores to get the child a present I really thought would be a good gift.  When I went to pick Sunshine up, there they were, piled up, unopened.  I, understood her frustration and I was pissed.

How dare they!  I went to three stores to get your kid a present and you were more concerned about the venue.  This isn't a wedding, if you invited so many kids that you don't have time to open the gifts, maybe the appropriate phrase isn't so many kids but too many kids.

Kids are bored?  I beg to differ.  I had 10 kids and 10 gifts at Sunshine's party.  They were crammed around her wanting her to open her present first, next...  Were there some presents she didn't necessarily like?  Yes.  I mouthed to her to say "Thank you" as we had talked about prior and guess what, she said thank you.  How else will she learn to be gracious.

If the venue has a tight time frame, too bad.  Talk to them prior and tell them you need them to leave 20 minutes for present opening.  Tops.  Presents are opened fairly fast.  If there's not enough time, cake can go home on a plate covered in aluminum foil (just be prepared ahead of time).

So you know what?  The next birthday party, I may not be as excited about hunting down that perfect gift.  Why should I?  I know a lot of parents don't even bother bringing their kids with to pick out the gift, what's teaching them?  As parents aren't we supposed to be teaching our children the joy in giving, not just receiving?

Where is the joy if you're not involved in buying or watching?  A thank you note is nice, but not really personal.  I mean, are they going to say anything but they like the gift.  Seeing the joy on someone's face is so much better than reading a form letter written by a 7 year old.

For those with children whose birthdays are approaching, I hope you remember this.  As I said, I try not to be so opinionated but it's been bothering me for, well, that very first birthday party.


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