It’s changed. A LOT. Kids birthday parties, much like formals are now upping the ante. They’re all turning 21 every year now. Break out the Mocktails. It’s a competition not a celebration.
Han: (aged 7): Emma’s mummy made traffic-light jelly cups for everyone in the class today, what can we make the class for my birthday?
Me: (Stunned silence) Wth? She made the WHOLE class traffic-light jelly cups?? All 30 kids?? Is that true? Is her mum home full-time?? With servants?
Han: <giggling> No mummy!!! Her mum works in the CITY every day.
Of course she does.
I was flummoxed and a little terrified. Who were these women? And where DID they find the time and energy to do all that? And what was my excuse with my little part-time cleaning job?? Were they the Stepford Wives? Could it be? Living right here in my little town of Springwood?
It wasn’t the first time I’d been upstaged by full-time working mums who found the time to do Pilates, cook from scratch and bake 300 cupcakes for the Girl Guide fundraiser. I wish I could say I was making that up, but the Girl Guides actually asked me if I could do that. The question was quickly retracted due to the horrified look on my face as I stuttered with upward inflection, “300??? THREE. H-H-HUNDRED. C-CUPCAKES?”. It was quickly offered to a more capable full-time working woman without a stammer. If you want something done, give it to a busy woman as the saying goes.
I always considered myself ‘busy’ or perhaps I’m confusing ‘busy/productive’ with ‘chaotic/disorganized frenzy’, because while I appear to be as flat out as any other woman, I don’t ever seem to have a clean bathroom or an empty laundry basket and dinner is frequently out of a tin. You could even interrogate me under a lamp and threaten to post pictures of my filthy toilet on Facebook and I’d still have nothing to tell you.
“Vot vere you do-ink beetween zee hours of 7 am – 9 pm on Tee-ew-sday the 12th of December?”
“Um. Well. Er. I KNOW I was busy. I just know it. I can’t think what. I didn’t even watch Oprah that day. Truly. I didn’t spend any time on myself, see? See how hairy my legs are??….”
It wouldn’t bode well for me.
I’m just struggling to adapt to how things have changed regarding birthday bashes for kiddies since I was a girl. There seemed to me, to be no gradual transition. It appears to have gone from having your best friend over for dinner and a packet cake, to inviting the whole class to Flip Out with gourmet pizza and individualised birthday iced-mini-muffins, as well as hand-delivering some delicious homemade treat on the actual day, to the entire class. I resentfully imagined those well-groomed Super-Mums arriving at the school in their SUV’s with their traffic-light jelly cups, donning aprons and perfectly straightened hair, unlike me in my activewear, no makeup and 5 value packs of Freddo Frogs from IGA.
I resented it. It made me feel like a failure as a parent. Bad, BAD Mum. Don’t you want to take out a second mortgage so your kiddies can feel popular? No actually. I don’t.
Even preschoolers are doing this. I attended a particularly offensive preschooler party with my youngest at McDonald’s once. I’ll never forget it, the movie Monsters, Inc. was blasting out from the mega screen TV, as well as pop music from some distant speaker. All the while, 30+ sugared-up toddlers raged around the play equipment, in a great sticky coke and ice-cream frenzy, hysterically screaming at the top of their lungs while the parents stood around yelling at each other over the din. I remember thinking, well there goes my evening. No Medium for you tonight, but I will be having a large glass of wine (to go with the whine).
I have given in over the years, as budget allowed, alternating the ‘party’ year between my children. We’ve roller-skated, ice-skated, Flipped-out both literally and figuratively and we’ve done the backyard parties. I’ve made terrible replicas of cakes from the Woman’s Weekly cookbooks dozen of times and its all gone down very well. I do love making a fuss of my kids on their birthdays, despite how it might sound, and I also believe you can do it simply and on a budget.
I think it’s healthy for kids to learn they have a limited number of guests, and in turn, they won’t always be invited to everyone else’s parties, because I know this to be true: I’m not the only bad mum out there.
Written for http://www.childblogger.org