Tuesday, January 30, 2007

birthday parties

As Mary's 7th birthday draws near I am grateful that we have not succumbed to the pressure for elaborate birthday bashes. Part of the reasoning is that we homeschool, we don't have a class full of little girls to easily invite. Another is tradition, our family didn't have parties, we simply had dinner at Grandmother's and a cake. A third reason is my own sanity; my days are spent feeding, dressing, changing, and educating 5 kids. I don't have the time or energy to plan and execute a fancy party.
Birthdays at our house consist of homemade cake with the birthday child getting to pick the color and decorations. One year Will wanted red cake but no matter how much food coloring I put in the batter it wouldn't get darker than Pepto Bismol pink. Another year he wanted green cake and frosting. One word: Yuck! Any child 3 or younger automatically gets Tim's favorite: yellow cake with chocolate frosting. My birthday is highlighted with pumpkin pie. The traditional singing is accompanied by a few modest gifts.
Mary's big day is a stark contrast to the festivities of the little girl the same age across the street. One year she had a puppeteer at the house with over 30 guests. Apparently they outdid themselves for last year; her party and gifts totaled $5000. Even her parties pale in comparison to the elaborate affairs described in the above article. Part of me feels redeemed when I read quotes such as this:
Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, who last year wrote a report The Importance of Play for the American Academy of Pediatrics, said children did not need lavish birthday parties.
"Children don't need toys that do everything for them and it is much better to get back to the basics and to have parents engaged with their children," he said.
"Parties should be a time to celebrate the presence of your life with family and friends and not a competition. It just makes one more expense that you don't need to have."

1 comment:

Michelle said...

My kids also get to pick the family dinner: usually pizza. And I usually do their chores for them.

I've done one or two "big" parties. Had 2 or 3 close Catholic families over. Ordered pizza. Had a pinata. Requested books, not toys.

Never rented a big inflatable jumping thing. Never hired a clown or done face painting. No goody bags. Never crowned my kid royalty for the day.