On Saturday we had a birthday party for my now-six-year-old. As a result I feel like I’ve been beaten about the head and neck with a club, and I could probably sleep ten hours every night for the next three months. But I wouldn’t change a thing. We’ve written a ton about the over-the-top party here, and I will gladly admit that measured against our lifestyle, our parties really push excess. We invite a million kids, hire a professional to dress up like a mermaid and do face painting and magic, give out bulging party favor bags, and serve enough cake and pizza to feed a small nation. And I’m all for it. Here’s why:
1. While I love the idea of inviting one kid for every year of your kid’s age, there’s a problem with that one for us. See, my kid is a total extrovert. At our progress report meetings with her teachers they always say, “she plays with everyone.” She also holds friendships well, and now has friends from preschool, kindergarten, her camp, the park, and our social circle. This means narrowing a guest list for her shindig causes more angst than our wedding guest list did. I like her super-shmoozy nature, and I’m willing to pay the price in stress and noise to keep encouraging that sociability.
2. The big soiree totally fits her personality. While some kids melt in chaos and wilt as the center of attention, she just gets more gracious and happy. The big blow-out party is her element.
3. She likes people, but they scare me a little. I get hives at the thought of entertaining more than two children at a time. Therefore the expense of getting a professional to mesmerize the children for two hours is a very small price to pay for my sanity.
4. It’s a family tradition to do birthdays big-time. When I was a kid, we were pretty poor, so one year my mom (bless her heart) dressed up as a clown and painted the kids’ faces herself. She’d make party favors and bake a giant cake. My birthday was special. Now I’m all about carrying that one on, in a way that means less work for me (I’m not so noble, you know.)
I’d never expect other people to do up their parties in the same way unless they wanted to, and there’s no keeping up with the whoevers here. We’ve attended all kinds of parties, from the modest to the major, and had a blast. But this is just what works for us. And as long as I can, I’ll be giving Tinker Bell the big fat tip for the great balloon animals and suffering a serious cake hangover. And every year my kid looks up at me and says, “This was the best birthday yet.”