May 19, 2007

Someone's Got To Say It

These little kid birthday parties are driving me nuts.

Oldest, whom I'm now referring to as Chatterbox, has had a birthday party to go to every weekend for the past 3 months. Or at least it feels that way. And I know I should be happy that she has so many "friends" (come on, she's 2) that want her to share their special day with them. And I am. But along with all that "specialness" comes a whole lotta hassle.

First you gotta rsvp. Now this might sound like a minor thing and a widely respected courtesy (and yes, I expect the same of others that are invited to my kids' parties) but it's a pain in the toe. I have enough to remember without having to call you to tell you that we will be at little Johnny's birthday party at Dragon Kingdom with bells on.

Then you gotta buy a gift. I'm always rushing out to get a gift at the last minute and then I have Gift Anxiety when perusing the aisles. Is this too cheap (after all, I barely know the kid)? Is this too expensive? Is this too boring? Is this too controversial (think leopard print minidress - hey I think it was cute)? Is the kid actually gonna use this? Do they already have this? Is this the right size? And the beat goes on.

And then a $3 card for someone who can't read. And then the wrapping, blah, blah, blah.

Then you gotta get to the party. This morning all Chatterbox could think/talk/scream about was this party she was going to this afternoon. And of course it was my Bribe Of The Day. "Come on and eat your breakfast! You wanna go to the PARTY don't you?"

So we finally make it to the party and she's beside herself exhausted because she's skipped her nap because she couldn't POSSIBLY go to sleep with the prospect of a PARTY in her immediate future. But we've made it. Ten minutes late (which I think is pretty darn good) But of course the invitation -- to which I had to rsvp -- requested that we be there no later than 1:50pm because the program was starting at 2:00pm on the dot. Gimme a break. Are we talking about the opera here? Aren't they just gonna run around, take each other's toys, eat cake and fight over the red balloon? Nope. This party was at the Little Gym, which I have to say was cute. But waaay to structured for a 3 year old birthday. Chatterbox lost interest very quickly. Too many instructions and guidelines for the games when all she really wanted to do was climb through the padded tunnel three or thirty times. And so she didn't play any of the games. She reluctantly went on the moonbounce for about 10 seconds. Poor thing. And after all the PARTY! anticipation all morning.

She did enoy the pizza & cake portion of the program, however.

And then. The goody bag. Play-doh? Stickers? A noisemaker? Fruitsnacks. Does the birthday girl's mom hate me? Can you imagine the state of my car and my child by the time we got home? There's no way I'm not going to have to pay extra when I turn in my car at the end of my lease. Lightning blue playdoh smeared in the grooves of the leather seats must constitute "excessive wear and tear."

And I know what you're going to say. You don't have to go to all those parties. Oh yes I do. If I didn't, I'd feel guilty for depriving my beloved Chatterbox of her opportunity to socialize with her peers. It's part of the Mom Curse job description.

Just like finding out you have three of those goody bag stickers on your butt. In the elevator at work. Stranger things have happened folks.


Mrs. Schmitty said...

I've had a little break from all of those parties. W. will be 9, but T. starts preschool this year. I know they'll be starting up again with him. I dread them!

Justice Jones said...

I really try to avoid these parties myself. Oldest loves them. The past few invites we were out of town. So I guess I got lucky. Oldest loves his birthday though. He talks about it 364 days of the year. He's always thinking about what we'll do for his next party starting the day after his last.

Elizabeth said...

Since Dorothy can't read yet, I just don't tell her that an invitation has arrived if it's at a time when we can't go to the party.

We recently went to a Little Gym party for a three year old. It was a little less structured than you describe, but it still was a little too directed for this age, I thought. But it was still fun.

Justice Ny said...

I have the opposite experience. I don't have a lot of invitations as DD is not at daycare, so doesn't have as many friends as "Chatterbox". In fact, DD#1 and sweet DD#2 are two of her four friends - how sad for my child:(

I need to get her into some classes or something to get her integrated a little more - not that she has any issue socializing - in fact she's already a social butterfly. But we do need something more structured.

My issue is that the weekends are already jam-packed with DH and I trying to get "life" done in a 48-hour time frame. For instance, we missed an opportunity just yesterday to get the kids together, but DH and I had so much crap to get done in preparation for the week ahead.

I need a planner!!!!! I think if I used my weekday afternoons better, I would need to do less on the weekend.

Justice Fergie said...

you know i was just thinking that i should get you a planner as your bday gift :)consider it done.

min said...

Ditto, ditto, ditto. Could have written this post.

Minivan Mom said...

Okay, "min" is me! lol

Anonymous said...

OMG, we have 4 parties in 2 weeks for my son. Holy crap, batman!

I spent a small fortune on gifts the other day!

Yolanda said...

We just wrapped up birthday party season. Does everyone have May birthdays? Our last two weeks have been just as you described. The weird thing for us though is suddenly people are having parties that last until 9 pm? My son is FOUR not twenty-four! Needless to say we skipped the late night shindig at the bounce house.

Pinehurst in my Dreams said...

My girls are older, but the rule of thumb for parties was - if you are the hostess - invite no more children than the birthday age of your child. (Moms and Kids are not overwhelmed.)

I personally don't do large parties with tons of preschoolers. (or grade schoolers for that matter.) My sister's grandson had a party. . .rather a free for all. . .and I couldn't stay. Kids were all over the place with no supervision. Men were outside setting up the pinata (no thanks), and the ladies were in the kitchen trying to talk over the squawking kids.
I don't think its socialization, unless the kids are having some socially redeeming activity that is age appropriate and chaperoned by adults.

If it were my child, I think one party per month is fine (unless the children were from families that our entire family socialized with.) The others would get generic gifts - age appropriate - coloring books, puzzles, colored pencils, whatever. . .and a note stating that "We are sorry Boopsie cannot attend the party. Please give our love to Muffy." Boopsie's Mom

Whatta ya think?

Justice Fergie said...

i'm glad to see that i'm not the only one with this gripe! thanks for all the suggestions on how to avoid/enjoy/gracefully bow out from the Attack of the Toddler Parties.

I'm actually guilty of throwing large birthday parties. But this year, I think an outing to a kids museum or something with 2 or 3 friends will do the trick. Here's to staying sane!

JJ said...

i'm feeling you on the anxiety of finding the right gift. it's not right we have to go through that. i had my 3year old's party at gymboree and was disappointed it cost so much and didn't come with a cake! anyway...just discovered this blog! as a working mom lawyer too, I'm totally loving it! Great job ladies! I have a new distraction for my day. :)

JJ said...

oops not 3 year old, 2year old. darn mommy brain! where's my jar of ginko biloba!?!

Pinehurst in my Dreams said...

Glad my suggestion helped. I think too many parents are guilt driven by what the other parents are doing. Not to say it hasn't always been that way, but in years past (like when I was a girl), parents were sensible, took charge, and decided what was best for them, as well as their kids. (I don't remember going anywhere but to someone's home for a party, and no one was unsupervised).

I "lucked out" when my kids were growing up, as most of the time only one or two kids would show up for their parties. (The girls were disappointed, but it made the day pass a little more quickly for me.)

Revka said...

In our family, it isn't even the friends having all the parties - it's the cousins. I have found the solution to the expensive card bit, though. Dollar Tree, Dollar General, and like places sell cards for $.50. Guess where I get my cards. :)

Presents - I've recently started a present stash that I add to as I see clearance and/or cheap items. Target's $1 section furnishes some cute but inexpensive gifts.

Parties and gift-giving is just hard.

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