Birthday Parties in the New Age
"S" must be perceived as quite the party girl because she gets invited to what seems like an extraordinary amount of birthday parties. Miss little-friendly needs to be chaperoned to all her affairs so I have the distinct honor of being the chosen one for these festivities. Once again these events have turned into another grandmother revelation of raising a child now as compared to "before." My own two children were only one year and twelve days apart so we celebrated their birthdays together for several years. Invitations were usually word of mouth, food consisted of cake, ice cream and drink and the surroundings varied from year to year, but were either free or for a minimal fee. Approximately ten or so of their closest friends were asked to share the day. Fast forward thirty years and yearly celebrations for our offspring require weeks of preparations, artistically designed invitations, a costly venue, entertainment , departure gifts for each child and a meal for about fifty or more invitees. So far, "S" has been on the receiving end of three jumpy houses, five "Chucky Cheese" parties, one firehouse tour and play function, one princess makeover, one celebration at a local art gallery and several theme gatherings at children's homes. Difference and uniqueness appears to be the quest of each parent and expense seems to be a non factor. However, they are all the same in several aspects; they are loud, rarely go as planned, a non return on your payment (child is not as enthusiastic as the investment) and exhausting. I can houseclean from dawn to dusk and still have more energy then when I return from a birthday party. It must be because I have an "out of body" experience each and every time I accompany "S" to such an event. I realize that I am physically present, but it is like I am viewing the function from a seat on an upper floor. All I can see is chaos and all I can hear is screeching. "S" alwlays seems to be having fun, but I am floating above the fray wondering how and why I am there and not sipping a margarita in the downtown market discussing the latest trends in market analysis. Instead I am running around a building with a large, overstuffed mouse who throws tickets at innocent children if they follow his dance steps. The younger mothers (which means all parents except me) chat and laugh in conversations that denote friendships while I seek the probable grandmother of the birthday child in order to connect on some sort of cultural, or chronological level. Sometimes I am successful, sometimes I just hang with "S". I always feel out of sinc financially, physically and psychologically at these events. I am what the youth would term "old school". I believe simple, low key and personal is the best memory to add to the child's repertoire of happy happenings. However, the "bigger the better" seems to be the mantra of parents today and whether I like it or not, "S" is a child of the present and not of three decades ago. I hope to find a comfortable compromise to all her celebrations, but my real desire is that she realizes that a showcase is not the essence of true happiness. Happiness is the essence of one's choice in any situation.....
Garden Ridge, Texas