Wednesday, February 22, 2006


Birthday party angst

I don't want to do this. I don't want to be one of those mothers who frets endlessly over her children's birthday parties - or, in our case, lack thereof.

Does a four year old really need a party? Granted, he had a party last year, but does that mean I am indentured to commit a party every year? And his brother has passed two birthdays without a party - the guilt is starting to get to me. Because I am turning out to be one of those mothers who gets obsessive about relatively equal treatment of each kid.

Of course we will celebrate the day. There will be balloons, there will be presents, there will inevitably be a Thomas the Tank Engine cake, because he has been requesting one every time the subject of any kind of bakery goods has come up for at least the past six months. (So much so, in fact, that when we attended the first birthday party of our favourite baby girl last weekend, he was astonished that the cake would be neither the Thomas nor Wiggles variety.)

But does there have to be a posse of sugar-poisoned preschoolers smushing cheesies into my already-abused carpet? Do I have to shell out $200 to some clever business for the pleasure of letting the kids smear cheesy fingerprints into their fixtures - be it gymnastics, indoor climbers, or a favourite local museum?

And who do I invite? He's four, he doesn't have a massive social circle of potential invitees. He's got a few friends at daycare, but I only know the parents in a "Oh hello, nice weather we're having, eh? Oops, is my car blocking you in? Just pass me that boot over there and we'll be out of your way" kind of passing. If I invite the kid, I'd expect the parent would want to come along to supervise, and the idea of politely hosting a room full of strangers for two hours while my kids go insane on hot dogs and hype is far from my ideal way to spend an afternoon.

And there's the whole minefield of kids you don't like. I have to admit, there are a couple of kids in his social circle that I'd just as soon not have him spending any more time with than absolutely necessary. This will probably be even more of an issue when he goes off to school, and I know I'm going to have to learn to deal with it, but for now if I can avoid bad influences I will.

The other alternative is to invite a bunch of our friends over, and let their kids play with my kids while we grownups have a great time. I like this alternative a lot, but it makes it a lot more about me than about Tristan, and my birthday isn't until August. (But you can bet I'll be getting a Thomas cake.) And the booze would probably cost more than renting a party place for the preschoolers.

In the end, we've decided to let him spend a day with one of his best friends, my cousin's son. We'll make it a fun day, maybe including his first cinematic experience. We'll have dinner with my folks, and prezzies and cake, and it will be a fun day.

But I'm still feeling guilty, worried that he'll someday be telling a therapist that he had blissfully perfect life, right up until he didn't get a party for his fourth birthday...